If you’re 18 or older, you’ve probably felt the pressure to “exercise your right to vote." It comes from the media, our university and every budding poli-sci major on campus. From Rick Mercer showing up on my Facebook newsfeed demanding I take part in democracy, to the posters plastered everywhere on campus telling me to “Champion The Vote," the message is clear — voting is my right and, by not exercising it, I put to shame to what it means to be Canadian.
That being said, I’m not voting.
Before you close your browser window in disgust, hear me out. I’m not an apathetic young adult who doesn’t care who’s running the country. I’m an informed individual who thinks changing the system by working within it accomplishes nothing.
Take strategic voting — what happened to voting for someone who represented your beliefs? We’re willing to mess with an already broken system just to see one man gone. Our willingness to resort to strategic voting proves there’s something wrong with the system. We act as if some nefarious supervillain threatened this country with nuclear weapons and forced us to place Harper in power. The truth is that we voted him in using the same system that we’re now employing to kick him out.
Take a look at the issues that have dominated this election season: the niqab, Bill C-51 and Justin Trudeau’s hair. The politics are of fear, misinformation and superficiality reign supreme. Thoughtful political discourse is missing in the current political landscape because the system prefers sensationalism. How are voters supposed to decide when presented with candidates that are caricatures of themselves and have policies that can be summed up in a few short sentences?
Jude Crasta, AMS VP External, compared our system to a "broken down car in the woods." He argued that we wouldn’t abandon the car in hopes of fixing its engine, so why do the same with our system? I agree that our system is broken. But voting won’t fix anything because it’s part of the system itself. It’s like opening up the hood and being told to fix the engine with the spare tire. Sure, the tire is part of the car — but it’s hardly the right tool to use. I’m not abandoning the system by not voting, I’m simply refusing to acknowledge its legitimacy and looking at an alternate method of fixing it.
If 80 per cent of the population decided they wouldn’t take part in a democratic farce, government would have to look at reform. It sounds like a dream, but all it requires is that people stop pretending democracy works in this country. We have the right to vote and not voting is an exercise of that right as well. Citizen education, electoral reform and political revolution is necessary in order to unite this country and break free of ideologies, class, religion and race. If you think the system works fine, then enjoy the thrill of filling out a ballot. But if you think your voice is worth more than just a slip of paper, then educate yourself, start a movement, demand change and opt out of the circus.
Jastej Luddu is a first-year Arts student at UBC.