Your cynicism is killing you

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In one week Ontarians head to the polls, but the real issue isn’t in whom you vote for, it’s whether you bother to vote at all.

The 2011 provincial election witnessed the lowest voter turnout in history with 49.2% casting ballots. It’s a steady trend downward. In 1990, 64%voted, and in following elections it decreased to 63, 58, 57 and 52.

Studies have shown that turnout drops with each succeeding generation. Only a third of first-time eligible voters today are actually voting, half the rate of a generation ago.

LEADWAVE Technologies from Chatham Voice on Vimeo.

The traditional view has been that non-voters are complacent, lazy, uninformed. In other words, they don’t care. What if the reverse is true? What if a good number of those who don’t vote have considered the issues, the parties and the candidates and don’t believe there’s anyone worthy of their time?

It’s a scary thought, particularly for political parties, but for society in general.

The opt-out phase has already been seen in the job market where statisticians (at least those who haven’t been laid off by the federal government) try to measure the actual jobless figure. So many people have simply quit looking for work that they don’t show up in traditional statistics.

How many voters are out there, waiting for a change from their parents’ brand of politics but not doing anything to force that change?

A growing number of people believe politics is about seizing and holding power, not serving constituents.

If you use that viewpoint to justify not voting, consider the long-term effect caused by your lack of action. Given that (short of massive social upheaval) governments will continue to be elected, the absence of many gives disproportionate power to the few.

Simply put, if you’re not going to vote anyway, why should the government implement policies that will benefit you? Better for them to serve the lobbyists and special interests, because that’s where the votes are.

Not voting won’t change anything. Getting involved is your (and our) only chance.

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