“We’ll reform the voting system! For really real!” … and other reasons I’m not voting this year.

So if you’re in Canada, there’s an election coming up in October. And if you’ve been paying any regular degree of attention to it, you probably have a general idea of what you’ll be voting on–hint: “yes or no on throwing Stephen Harper out on his ass” isn’t it. If you’re voting, you’ve probably already decided on who–or, in the case of a small minority, against who. If you’ve decided to stay home, odds are pretty good you’ve decided–not inaccurately–that it probably doesn’t make a whole lot of difference who comes out ahead in any eventual election.

My thoughts on voting in general, at least insofar as Canada goes, aren’t secret. You get a lot of hot air for a lot of partial reasons, then the individual political parties let their diehard supporters loose on each other until voting day–at which point somebody wins and not a whole lot changes. We went through it last year in Ontario and have been paying for it since. We went through it several times federally and have been paying for it since (note: That is not a dig at Harper. Relax, conservatives.). It’s too soon to offer an opinion on Alberta’s election, but if history’s any guide, I’ll be reevaluating that notion in about a year or two. And now, we get a chance to do it all over again federally to the tune of a very similar song and dance as we saw last time around. So with that in mind, the reasons I won’t be voting in this year’s election–just like I didn’t vote in last year’s.

We’ll reform the voting system!

This one I hear about every so often. I have no idea why, as it never seems to go anywhere, but it gets people through the night I suppose. Ontario talked about it last year. This year, they’re sort of doing it, if you loosely define “doing it” as updating their regulations to match the federal equivalent. More recently, the federal liberals have been musing about the prospect of some kind of new system within a year and a half of winning office, which should give you a general idea of the likelihood of its success. But what Justin Trudeau doesn’t mention–and Harper didn’t either when he jumped off the election reform bandwagon after, you know, winning one–is the only folks who seem to contemplate these notions are folks who aren’t currently benefitting from the broken system at the time. File this under “I’ll believe it if I see it” and let’s move on.

Kill the Senate and Harper with it!

To hear pretty much anyone not currently in government tell it, the senate broke the second Harper started appointing people to it. Unless you’re Harper pre-2006, then it broke the second Cretien/Martin started appointing people to it. either way, somebody somewhere usually calls for either reform or outright elimination of the senate and usually that’s as far as it goes. Why? Because outside of the NDP, no one particularly fancies opening the constitution. And if the NDP gets a shot at it, it may be the next election before it gets anywhere meaningful. But that’s a thing to beat the government over the head with, so “Die, senate, die!: or something.

I have no idea who the middle class is, but I will defend you!

spend 5 seconds on Google looking up any news article related to “the middle class”. go ahead. I’ll wait. Everyone says it. The conservatives say they’re looking out for it. The liberals say it’s hard done by and needs help. The NDP says business is screwing it over. None of the above can seem to explain exactly who would be covered under “the middle class”. Would the guy who works minimum wage at McDonalds? What about the high school English teacher down the road? Would you? Would I? No one’s saying. But whoever it is, clearly they’re crying out for help. So vote $party, and it’ll be business as usual for another 4 years because really, what can you do?

The scandal! The impropriety!

This one’s probably my favourite. The conservatives haven’t met an election they couldn’t be accused of cheating to win. The liberals were booted from office thanks largely to their own legal and financial shananigans. And let’s not leave the NDP’s own money troubles out of the mix. Because guilty as the other two are, they sure won’t. “We’re not as corrupt as they are” is starting to hold less and less meaning here, guys.

It may be my God-given right to vote. But if I’m expected to exercise that right, please for the love of that god give me something worth exercising it on. At the moment, options include bad, bad, slightly less bad and where the hell did you come from. Mandatory voting won’t change that–I’ll just take the fine for not bothering to waste my time picking from the better of three coruptions. Preferencial voting won’t change that–you’ll just have your pick of any three godaweful choices, each with a platform they’ll stick on a shelf when the election’s over. lowering the voting age won’t change that–if you can’t convince somebody in their 30’s to get out and vote, and they have arguably more of a dog in this fight than a high school student, you’ve got bigger problems than shaving a couple years off the voting age. In short: fix the options, or the method for picking those options won’t matter worth a damn. Give me a reason to vote, and stop it with the reasons not to. Until that happens, I’ll be withholding my vote. And Trudeau, if he actually follows through on something as potentially significant as electoral reform, can fine me for it until the cows come home. Who knows? That might be the proof I need that someone up there actually means it.

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