The only time I ever listen to the radio is while driving and earlier this week the comments of a person calling into a talk show caught my attention.
Monday of this week was the kick-off day for a municipal election campaign in our city and across our province. As is the case with most municipal elections this one is generating about as much excitement and interest as one would normally associate with volunteering to undergo root canal surgery.
This particular caller had called in to inform the world that he was proud of his voting record – in his 47 years on earth he has never once cast a ballot – because “they are all morons anyway and they don’t know what they’re doing.”
While there are, I’m sure, many who would agree with his assessment I personally take exception with his choice of not voting.
Dictionary.com defines democracy this way:
1.government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.
2.a state having such a form of government: The United States and Canada are democracies.
3.a state of society characterized by formal equality of rights and privileges.
4.political or social equality; democratic spirit.
5.the common people of a community as distinguished from any privileged class; the common people with respect to their political power.
And for this process, this magnificent freedom, to continue we need to participate by casting our ballots.
We who live with freedom frequently take our great fortune for granted and many of us would be well served to remember those history lessons which taught us of the thousands upon thousands of brave men and women who forfeited their lives in order that we may enjoy the benefits of belonging to free societies.
It has long been a national pastime to complain about all levels of government and I’m a firm believer that the right to whine about government should only be available to those who participate in the process.
Exercising the right to vote is a wonderful privilege which, for tens of millions of people around the planet, will only ever exist in their dreams.
And yet so many – those thousands of members of the Apathy Party of Canada – choose not to participate in this, the highest symbol of freedom, because they just can’t be bothered.
Like many, I too am frequently critical – often loudly – of those elected to public office. I have done my fair share of whining about actions taken, or not taken, and, like all skilled armchair critics, have, with ease, come up with simple solutions to all those complex issues that politicians seem to consistently mess up.
An unquestionable fact that resides in my mind is the knowledge that, were I in their shoes, I would know exactly what to do and always to exactly what is right.
Clearly I would be the first ever elected official gifted with the ability of being able to please everybody.
As much as I have done my fair share of criticism I have never lost the deep respect I hold for anyone who has the courage of seeking elected office. From the moment a candidate puts his or her name forward for election, they don an enormous target which they will wear as long as they retain the title of “politician.”
As an immigrant to this magnificent country, and having come from a country where the right to vote was only bestowed upon me because of the colour of my skin and was denied to the majority because of the colour of theirs, I have never once forsaken the opportunity to place my X on a ballot sheet.
To me, the opportunity to cast my vote is more than a right and more than a privilege. It is a sacred obligation to not only play my role in the electoral process but also to honor the many thousands who perished so that I can.
I know our upcoming municipal election is not electrifying. It has been forecast that voter turnout will be under 25% and it is probable that there will be few surprises in the results.
I have spoken with people who have told me they know nothing about the candidates running in their wards, or that they don’t find any of the candidates to be inspiring. The truth is nominations are closed and, inspiring or not, one of the candidates running in each ward will be your representative for the next four years.
For democracy to survive, we all need to participate and I implore you to take the time and learn as much about each candidate as you can and even if it means voting for the one you hate the least, on election day. Please, if for no other reason than as a symbol of unity with the millions in countries around the world who do not have this privilege, take five minutes out of your busy life and go and cast your vote.
Nothing you do on that day will be more important.
You have my vote on that.
Till we read again.
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