I wonder if we all appreciate our right to vote freely –
without coercion or threat. Not everyone in this world has that right. Oh, they may participate in ‘elections’ which have the guise of being open and democratic. And, in many countries, elections are really nothing more than a show to placate the masses and the rest of the world.
I’ve voted in every election – municipal, provincial, and federal since I was able to vote. My father refused to vote since he believed that every party did nothing more than prop up a system with which he disagreed. My mother only voted for the first time after he died. Before that, I think she felt that, to maintain harmony at home, she wouldn’t exercise her right to vote.
I’m thankful for the internet because I can read the news and explore the platforms of those who run for office. This has been especially helpful since I’ve moved to a new community. I could read and listen and consider and talk to others and then make up my mind about who I would support. And I have voted.
I’ve also worked in many capacities – scrutineer, polling clerk, deputy returning officer, and revision officer in 5 elections both in my former community and in my new one. So, I’ve had a varied experience of our election process.
Yet, I’ve been discouraged by some comments I’ve heard and by the choices made by those who do vote.
I’ve watched parties and leaders being voted in because the electorate has chosen to punish the party that was in power. I remember the ABH feeling which existed in Canada – Anybody but Harper. And in my own province, I’ve seen our own version of Donald Trump get elected because Ontarians wanted to punish the Liberals and they didn’t want a minority government. So now we have reaped the whirlwind. And we have to endure that for another 3 years at least.
And we’ve all been able to watch what is happening in the United States
– a country which believes itself to be the leader of and the most important country in the world. To me, it seems that if a policy was passed by Obama, then the goal, since Trump’s election, has to immediately strike it down. The atmosphere in the U. S. feels like one which has devolved into misogyny, homophobia, hate, and megalomania. Any sense of our shared humanity has been torn by fomenting hate against foreigners, women, liberals, the legitimate press and anyone who expresses an opinion which differs from the pronouncements from government leaders at all levels.
I’ve seen and heard the President of the U. S. laud those who are in the audience at his rallies who physically accost others present there. I’ve heard him say that someone who was running for office who got physical with a reporter was his ‘kind of guy’. I’ve seen him at rallies mock those who have disabilities. I’ve heard him paint anyone who doesn’t think as he does as someone who needs to be feared. I’ve heard him declare that Mexicans and Muslims and other foreigners are thugs, criminals and potential terrorists. I’ve seen him abdicate his humanity in favour of selling armaments to a country which killed a U. S. reporter.
I wonder how becoming a country which operates based upon fear and worshiping money can ever live up to the concept of ‘Make America Great Again.’ What I see isn’t greatness. What I see is a country which believes that the only way to lead is by being a bully.
Hilary Clinton won the popular vote but not the Electoral College. And so, she didn’t become President of the United States. I have no idea if she would have been a good president or a mediocre one or a bad one. What I do know is that if enough people choose not to exercise their right to vote because they don’t like who is running for office or they believe that nothing will change anyway so why should they vote, then they allow others to make decisions about the kind of city, state, province, or country that they live in. They give away their right to speak up and choose for themselves.
Even as I choose to vote, even as I choose to be aware globally and live my life locally, even as I choose to create my personal world in which I wish to live, I am disheartened by the anger and smallness and malaise emanating from other counties, cities, and countries in our world. The mindset which is extant in the world today is something which feels heavy and full of despair.
We, each of us, need to decide who we truly are and what kind of world we want to create for ourselves now and for our children.
In the political realm, that means, to me, that we need to be thankful for having the opportunity to vote. And it means that we need to be wary of demagogues. And it means that we need to remember that we are all in this together. We need to act from our humanity and not fear.
It can be done. We just need to make it so.