Voting – a forgotten civic duty?

The Opposition had finally got its act together it seemed and was going to make a fall election happen – not! The timing was apparently not right – again!

I wonder what the real holdback was this time? Courage? Or anticipated low voter turnout? Maybe that’s the real concern. And why do our voters not show up? Apathy? Democracy taken for granted? A neglected birthright? A “let the other guy vote because nothing changes anyway?” attitude? A “I have to hold down three jobs to survive, I have no time to vote” excuse?

Oh, yes we seem to have lots of excuses—not only for not calling elections, but for not voting at them. Not very healthy, I dare say.

I remember feeling proud the first time I received my Canadian citizenship— I was able to vote again! I had only had that experience once in my life in my home country, where thereafter elections became fewer and far between due to civil wars or nepotistic rulers who kept arbitrarily extending their rule by edict. After becoming a Canadian citizen, I voted in every municipal, provincial and federal election since.

For inspiration, I look over at that desert and mountainous country half a world away, which our young soldiers are valiantly trying to defend in its conversion to democracy. Over there, elections were held as planned, despite vote rigging, death threats and other obstacles. Citizens, who could barely sign their names, braved machine guns, bombs and other forms of terror, to go out and vote, exercising their desire to make their world a better place, believing that despite all the mayhem and corruption, the worm would turn and democracy would prevail, believing in Winston Churchill’s famous dictum, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

Perhaps there is a lesson from that desert outpost – that when you lose something (or never had it) you fight a tougher battle to get it back (or obtain it for the first time), but that when you have something that is considered a birthright, you can fall into complaisance and easily stand to lose it.

Therefore, I am advocating that as much as reading 50 books a year become a new civic duty, voting at the next election for the party of your choice return to active civic duty—if the Opposition ever forces an election, that is.

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