Volume 94, Issue 49
Friday, November 24, 2000
There's more to life than being apathetic
Voting in elections may be a lot like practicing environmentalism.
At first, no one wants to build a pile of pooh known as a compost heap, or cut breaks in those plastic seagull-strangling six-pack holders. 'I'm just one person,' the saying goes 'and my small, stupid contribution will be useless, unless everyone else out there starts wearing Birkenstocks, dreads and becomes a friend of the planet.'
Having only one vote in a nation with millions of eligible voters is a lot like having only one pile of pooh, or one pair of six-pack holder shears for the whole environment, which, according to some scientists, covers the entire world.
Does one puny, single vote really affect the outcome of an election? Well, maybe in Florida, but the past couple of weeks have proved democracy in the United States is a pretext for litigation, not a system of government, so the American model should be disregarded.
More to the point then, will one measly little X drawn on a ballot card this Monday really affect how Canada's next government will be formed? Is it even worth that long, sad bus ride to the polling station? Does it warrant those agonizing hours spent poring over platform literature, trying to undress the candidates in your mind and designing sophisticated computer simulations to test out each party's economic plan?
Well, not the last part, but as for the part about voting, yes, it is worth it.
It's generally agreed that a democracy is only as strong as the democratic participation of its citizenry. Greater participation equals better, more representative democracy. So even if your party doesn't win, or wins by such a landslide that you didn't need to cast your vote, the fact that you did vote is an unquestionable good.
Imagine if every last eligible voter in the land showed up at the polls, every time this country had an election. Think of the pressure politicians would feel to govern well.
This is the dream of the environmentalist. What if? What if all of us, every single one, chose to do something small but significant towards the good of a greater cause in which we all share.
At long last, we would have something worth boasting to Americans. Stronger beer, higher per capita Kraft dinner consumption and questionable hockey supremacy, could all be laid to a glorious and well-deserved rest after serving so long as reasons we're better. 'Look at us, Yankee scum,' we could say in polite Canadian tones, 'we've had 100 per cent voter turnout for the past 10 years and you're still trying to figure out if George Dubya Bush has enough brain cells to qualify for the presidency!'
This column began with an analogy between voting and helping the environment. Both are laudable ways to employ one's time and both just take a little co-operative effort to make the world a noticeably better place. Thus, in closing: pile up poo! save seagulls! vote for somebody, anybody! And never, ever, miss a chance to throw garbage at Americans!
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