In the hush of dawn, you can hear the sound of pols screwing their smiles in place. People have portraits of those they barely know on their lawns. And well-meaning souls from sea to sea are mouthing the most obnoxious phrase ever conceived: "If you don't vote, you can't complain."
What if I want to complain about voting? Don't answer that. Instead, join me in a competing slogan: "If someone else needs to convince you to vote, please just stay the hell home."
You know who really won the debate last week? Gilles Duceppe, with one official language tied behind his back: "I know I'm not going to be prime minister. And neither are three of you, but you won't say it." Thank you. In addition to a moderator, every debate should now include the role of Person Who Just Says Stuff We Were All Thinking.
Federal elections are pony shows. And I'm glad to say I'm sitting this one out. That's right: an avowed soft-on-crime, tree-sipping, latte-hugging arts fag will not be "voting to stop Stephen Harper."
I can't. My riding is a Liberal stronghold with no Tory menace in sight. Were you to hold a gun to my head, I might vote NDP, but why?
Thanks to our antiquated first-past-the-post system, I have no franchise, or at best a negative one, reliant not on the strength of my beliefs but on the future weakness of someone else's. My vote means nothing. Try working that into an anthem.
This is discomforting to those who, bless their earnest hearts, tell me to "vote anyway," advocating the logic of a child crying "please" to its mother 47 times in a restaurant. Stop. You are ruining dinner dates.
Anyway, I'm not convinced the problem is who's steering a sinking ship. Do we really think that single vote we cast one day out of four years speaks louder than the money we spend and the work we do the other 1,459?
As far as I can tell, federal governments exist mainly to consolidate resources for gigantic bad ideas ($2 billion in subsidies for companies working in the tar sands).
Anything worthwhile that's been done under the federal government could have been done without it; but only through it could 9,984,670 square kilometres of resources be secured for exploitation by foreign colonizers and multinationals.
Imagine if every time a corporation wanted to cut a forest, it was the people of the immediate area who had the final say. Imagine if trade deals were inked between municipalities, not national ministers smelling of corporate lobbyists.
Things don't yet work like that, so I'm expected to be a "realist" and approximate my ideals with the proffered broad brush. Well, I'm not sure I can acknowledge the validity of Parliament.
But what if your vote could give power to people who think the same way? Then they would stop thinking that way. Anyone else who jumped out the leftmost windows of the NDP train knows what I mean - you're wincing each time Layton walks his new tough-on-crime platform plank.
The same goes for the art debate, as candidates pound the "it's good for the economy" button. Often yes. Often not so much. Are we glad when things are good for this economy specifically? Art is, to paraphrase Somerset Maugham, an adventure of the soul; this economy is its antithesis. Saying the arts are good for the economy elevates "the economy," not the arts - and hands Harper the excuse for cutting: programs "weren't effective," "didn't get results."
Some of the hardest-working people I know are artists, and I've seen how funding them is a direct boon to the city. I'm not against grants; I'm against participating in a machine that allows no system of value that hasn't first been converted to the devalued currency of marketing. Frankly, the whole thing feels hamfisted.
If you need to vote, please vote. And please keep debating with me. Just don't assume I'm lazy. True, I'm not planning to mark a paper, albeit one steeped in symbolism. But I am reflecting on the political system, and connecting it to my actions.
That sounds like a net gain for democracy to me.