Guest Blogger: Shannon Winterstein>>Why I vote
(Shannon and I had this entire conversation over text message. It’s long, but also possibly the most informative thing you’ll read all day.)
Shannon: Why do I vote? Because there is no good reason not too.
People died, they died, for this right.
While there are gaping holes in democracy, it is ridiculous to ignore the fact that civil participation, or the lack of it, is just as much to blame. Civil participation is a crucial element of the system. And if the system is failing and we are turning our backs on it by not voting then we are to blame. Failure of an entire system is not on the shoulders of one person.
Hitler did not create the holocaust alone. Blind eyes and turned backs allowed for a momentum to build. That momentum was big enough to take the vote away from the persecuted. I am not suggesting that that is what will happen in Canada. What I am suggesting is that democracy is only successful, only stronger than other forms of government because it allows, however limited, the voice of the people to be heard. Voting creates a strong base or foundation for democracy to work. If the people don’t show up to the simplistic and initiative stage of the democratic process then they have conceded.Not showing up to vote creates unstable ground that allows government to do things we don’t want them to do, and it all ends up being a direct result of our poor participation.
I will take 15 minutes out of my day to tell those in power I would like to keep contributing to our national voice. Especially if the alternative could be a pink triangle. The holocaust happened in an instant. But it took a world, lifetimes, lives, families, and atomic destruction to stop it. And Hitler was elected.
Katie: Isn’t that a reason not to vote? If elected leaders just abuse power anyway?
Shannon: Well. That is a valid counter point. I could be wrong, but what if people had used their voice against Hitler? That same system of democracy put President Roosevelt in, who got the States involved and ultimately ended the war.
Democracy will come up short. Humans will make mistakes. But dictators face no consequences. If no one shows up tomorrow than we said to Harper there is no consequence to your actions.
A change can be made tomorrow. Even if the only change is to tell the Conservative Party the country will call you out, then that is one good change. If Harper is the first PM to be found in contempt of Parliament and there is no consequence, then why should we expect him to be honest again?
But if Layton wins, that sure sends a message. The message is: “Do Not Lie To Our Parliament. You Will Be Kicked Out.” It a pretty large message.
People want epic change. Unfortunately, democracy does not work like that; this is both a good and bad thing. Good because Harper can not just overturn abortion or gay marriage. But bad because people don’t see the change they expect to see.
Also, imagine you couldn’t vote.
Katie: Terrifying. Right?
Shannon: Terrifying. Harper is promising if he gets a majority there will not be an election for 5 years.
Katie: Also terrifying.
Shannon: Right. How is the promise of no say appealing? It’s appalling. How can you be found in contempt and then promise that on your platform?
If Canadians believe all politicians are the same, then let’s send a message. If you take it that far, if you do something so stupid and undemocratic as be found in contempt of Parliament, then we will kick you out of our house!
So why should we vote? If nothing else, so that we get to keep our vote. Democracy is not perfect. But until there is something better it will keep us from something worse.