I have to admit that voting, and especially my generation’s take on the democratic process, are topics I can get fairly impassioned about. I teach grade nine Social Studies, which is when students are supposed to learn about civics and how their government functions. It can sometimes be a frustrating experience to say the least. This is often because I can see the direct link from the class to my friends who utter such pearls of wisdom as, “It doesn’t matter, it’s just politics.”Do you ever wonder why senior citizens are getting more and more concessions from the government while students seem to be the last item on most political agendas? Or maybe why universities often warrant a quick stop on the way through to somewhere else on the campaign trail, while retirement homes are absolute necessities? The reason is quite simple…seniors vote and we don’t! Think of it from a politician’s point of view. Your pot of money to spread out is only so big and if you want to be re-elected you have to make sure it is spread as wisely as possible to garner as many votes as you can in the next election. Are you going to give it to the students who like to protest, wear crazy Che Guevara T-shirts (much love), and wouldn’t know what a voting booth looked like unless it served adult beverages? Or are they going to give it to the generation who either fought in wars to promote democratic freedom, or had parents that did? Guess which one goes to the polls more? In the 2008 Federal Election Canada as a whole went to the polls at an all time low of 59% according to Stats Canada. Youth (age 18-24) were represented at about a 37% clip! Canadians aged 65+ voted came in at 69%. It doesn’t exactly take an actuarial math degree for politicians to see where their priorities should lie. In fact, after looking at those numbers, can you honestly blame them?
Students Should Vote So They Aren’t Ignored
This is maybe the biggest reason why students should vote. I’m definitely not an pie-in-the-sky optimist (some might even call me cynical), so I’m under no illusion that the old, “Vote because it’s your democratic right and people died for it,” spiel will change matters much. Instead, the realist in me is appealing to all of your selfish instincts. The only way to make your voice heard is not to simply picket the steps of your provincial legislature, but get to out and vote. Imagine the chaos we could throw the country into if we actually all showed up? Or even if two-thirds of showed up? How about next election we all get into a group of a three and elect (democracy in action) one person to collect the money and go buy the discount beer (election kegger anyone?) and the other two can go vote? For the purposes of our experiment it doesn’t even really matter who you vote for! The ultimate affect we want is for the light bulb to go off in politicians’ heads when the pie charts that show voter participation come in. If the old doormat 18-24 demographic grabs a nice juicy chunk out of that pie who wants to bey we’ll see more of the boys in fancy ties wanting to shake hands come the next election?
Students should vote to send their message!
So get out and vote the next time around. Not liking any of the parties is not an excuse. What would send a stronger message to the old boys club in your Provincial capital or in Ottawa than a whole lot of spoiled ballots from the 18-24 demographic? Right now the message they’re hearing is that students don’t care enough about their country/province to vote. What we want them to hear is that we just don’t care enough to vote for any of you. After all, isn’t it easier to yell at, ridicule, and make fun of the politicians when they come to your campus instead of having to take time out of your day to go to their office? Is that a half-full pitcher I see?