Our vote is our being able to try and make a difference – what a beautiful thing

Tomorrow is the election. I wanted to write something because, well, frankly, writing is just what I love to do and thrive on doing. But what?

I know the election coverage has been overwhelming. I went from reading every article to reading only the headlines and considering myself informed.

I was at my first term at St. Mary’s University when I got to cast a ballot in a federal election for the first time. I remember that after the vote had been tallied in my Halifax electoral district, and I had made my decision for someone who wasn’t the the winner, someone said something to the effect of “oh that’s too bad that your vote didn’t count”.

That odd statement has become normal and recurring in this election as people discuss strategic voting and the desire to have electoral reform, to move away from a first-past-the-post system to proportional representation, or some other perceived-as-fairer voting system. My Facebook and Twitter is strewn with discussions of whether strategic voting actually makes sense, and that strategic voting is offensive in its missing-of-the-point of our Charter-enshrined right to vote.

The most amazing thing about this is this absolutely high-level discussion of voting theory. We’ve gone from absolute voter apathy to a fury of intellectual conversations.

I was feeling very impassioned about the election. The long list of ways in which the Conservative Party has wasted money in drafting ideological and flawed legislation has infuriated me endlessly. When I attempt to balance this waste of money with the assertion that their Party platform is first and foremost to “Protect Our Economy” I always wind up at an impasse. The two just don’t seem to mix.

I was feeling very impassioned by the negative campaigning, disgusted with the ripping apart of one another. I was feeling impassioned by the various candidates who were quickly relived of their duties in the wake of stories of urinating in coffee cups and spreading homophobic nonsense. I was impassioned by the manipulation of the photo of a drowned Syrian refugee, whose tragic, senseless death brought a wave of misinformation.

But now, on the eve of the election, I am, as my father consistently advises me, trying to keep things on the level. As I watch the high-end conversations about voting theory and neoliberalism unfold in the most unlikely of places, I am moved in a calmer way. The litany of Facebook profile pictures strewn with the message that “I Will Vote Oct 19th”; the 3.6 million people who voted in the early polls: these things matter.

There are a lot of things I wanted in this election. I wanted a focus placed on human rights and the environment. I find it challenging to be incensed by a personal tax break when I know there are aboriginal families who will never know what happened to their daughter. I can’t ignore the environment so that we as a country may make a quick buck at the expense of saddling my little niece and nephew’s children with a boatload of problems that we could have avoided. It’s just not me.

And so, those were the things I really had my mind wrapped around.

But today, as I reflect on voter turnout and discussions of voting theory, I am mostly grateful that as a human family we have come together to be incensed and motivated to vote, to participate, to have a say. Somewhere, I think a really brilliantly minded man is pleased with this.

And so, in the last few hours of this government as it currently stands, I cling on to Jack Layton’s theory that “Politics matters. Ideas matter. Democracy matters, because all of us need to be able to make a difference”. 

His was the view I think best encapsulates what I believe. More importantly, I believe we have all shown this to be true in our feverish dedication to voting and discussing why voting matters. What matters most is not who will form the government, nor who will draft what new legislation on my dime or yours, nor who will give us a tax break. What matters most is that we care; that we participate in making a difference. My vote wasn’t wasted when I was 18 years old. My vote was me being able to make a difference.


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