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the case for casting

shouldn't we all?
an acquaintance of mine who likes to think that he knows more than anybody about everything chastised me before the last election when i pressured him to get out and vote by saying that it was "nice" that i still persisted in my naive exhortations to vote, despite the fact that democracy was obviously a "failed system".  at the time, i gritted my teeth and hoped that my friendly cuteness had been enough to encourage him to vote anyway, but the fact is that i've spent the last two and a half years kicking myself for what i should have said, what i've said to others when they've made the same sort of comments.

first of all, let's get the big issue out of the way: is there a federal party that represents the way that you think a nation, a community or a society should be run on a long-term scale? if the answer s yes, i trust you've figured out which party that is and i encourage you to vote for them. you're very lucky.

now, let's deal with the rest of us.




many people, myself very much included, have paid enough attention to the political system to have learned what options are out there and to have become severely disillusioned. still more know very little about the political system, but are disillusioned anyway because things seem to be going constantly wrong. i consider myself lucky to have been raised in a home where politics came with milk and cereal in the morning. at least that means i've figured out the ways in which things go wrong. i understand that others are prone to simply shrugging their shoulders and ejaculating a profound "wtf?!?!?"

for those who have become disillusioned, it may seem that there is no political option, that since no party represents our most deeply held values, that there is no purpose to voting because there is no meaningful difference between our political options. and, if you insist on voting only when you agree with the broad social view of a party, or their grand vision of society and community, then chances are there is no point in you voting. but i would submit that if these are your criteria, you're voting for the wrong reasons to begin with.

the fact is that visions of utopia are highly individual and finding a person, let alone an entire political party, whose views accord with yours is a likely impossibility. but if you think that's a reason not to vote, then i think maybe it's time you came in from your village in the clouds. elections are not about ideals. elections are about practical realities and the fact that, like it or not, you are implicated in the activities of your government in the most basic ways imaginable. your ideals are your own and you should fight for them with all your spirit and strength. you aren't going to vote [or not vote] for your ideals on monday. get over it.

whether you vote or not on monday, a new government will be elected and you will feel the effects of that whether you vote or not. when was the last time you bought something? anything at all. a couple of hours ago? yesterday? i'd be surprised if many of you could go further than a few days back without thinking of something that you've purchased. that purchase had tax applied. there was a provincial tax, but also a federal one. in fact, the federal tax would have been less than it was when stephen harper was first elected, because, true [for once] to a promise, his conservative government has lowered the level of the gst. that tax and that change affects you every single time you make a purchase. has the lowering of that tax been beneficial for you personally? do you know what the money you pay [5% on every purchase to the federal government] has funded? the government isn't in the business of collecting money only- that money is supposed to be redirected into things from which we all benefit. are you feeling those benefits?

dontcha wish your vote could save a cute like me? it could
if you're working regularly, take a moment to look at your paycheque. they clearly identify the amount of money going to the federal government. does it strike you that you're giving a lot of your pay to the federal government? what are you getting in return? do you have an opinion on where you'd like that money spent? would you prefer to have that money go into improved highways and road transport? or would you rather see it pushed towards improved public transport and housing? these are not overarching questions of worldview. these are questions of what is to be done with the money that you're handing over whether you like it or not.

well, maybe you think that you shouldn't be paying money to some distant sovereign body, you certainly wouldn't be alone in that view. in fact, there are politicians and at least one major political party who agree that you should be in control of as much of your money as possible and they express that belief by promising [and occasionally delivering] lower taxes.

but the fact remains that you are going to end up handing over some money, if only temporarily, to the government. would you rather they spent your money on education or defense? on health care or domestic energy resources? even if you don't believe that any of the major parties reflect your personal world view, you might have opinions on these issues. if someone gave you a thousand dollars to spend on projects for the public good, where would you spend it? is there are party that would make similar choices? perhaps, if you want your money to mean something, you should consider voting for them.

we all have our ideal views of the world. the fact is that 99% of us will never attain them. but that doesn't mean that we should be disinterested in government. far from it. in fact, it means that we should be all the more critical about who we entrust with our money and what we authorise them to do with it. trust me: we're all going to end up paying whether we vote or not. the question isn't one of world view, the question is one of endorsement on the most basic of issues. don't worry about the grand picture- that is something to be negotiated on an ongoing basis through all strata of society. this election is about basics: do you want your road paved? or do you want to be able to take that money and do with it as you see fit? which would benefit you? which would benefit your community? which is more important to you? these are the questions you should be asking yourself when questioning if and how you'll vote on monday. one thing is for certain: those questions will be answered, whether you speak up or not.

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