COLUMN: Take pity on fools who don’t vote

As election day approaches, it's still awfully tough to decide how to cast your vote.

My wife and I often joke that, even though we don’t have many similar interests – I love sports, she loves TV shows with titles that begin with ‘Housewives of…’ – our relationship works because, as she eloquently put it on one of our first dates, “You hate the same things that I hate.”

Awww.

It’s that spirit of positivity that led recently into a rare discussion of politics, during which I’d mentioned that I still had no idea who I would vote for on Oct. 19.

“I hate all the party leaders equally,” I said, joking, but sort of not.

“Well, who do you hate the least?” my wife asked.

And ignoring for the moment that a voting strategy based on dislike probably isn’t the best example of democracy in action, I had no answer anyway.

I’ve never been the most politically minded person. This is perhaps owing to the fact that, as George Constanza once said in an episode of Seinfeld, “If it’s not about sports, I find it very hard to concentrate.”

Or it could be that my political will was quashed years ago, when, in the one and only political science class I ever took in college, I nearly failed an assignment because I was told by my professor – an enthusiastic supporter and unabashed member of a certain political party – that the opinion I expressed in an opinion essay was wrong.

I’ve also been my own worst enemy, at times. I haven’t always cared as much as I should. I’ve skipped voting on election night if there’s been a good game on TV. And I distinctly remember, in one of my first-ever opportunities to vote upon reaching legal age, I voted for a provincial candidate of a so-called “fringe” party because, and only because, I thought he kind of looked like Mr. T.

But regardless of my past indifference, I care now. I pay attention to what party leaders say, I look up the platforms of each and figure out what I like and what I don’t.

And, yet, I am still as confused as ever. Because every time I think I have a grasp on what I want to do, some party leader – or even candidates from elsewhere in the country – opens his or her mouth and says something dumb, something that makes me think, “There is just no way I can vote for you anymore.”

Across the country, it’s just been blunder after blunder. Since the writ was dropped, we’ve had a Conservative candidate caught on camera peeing into someone’s coffee mug; an NDP candidate admit that she didn’t know what Auschwitz is; and a former Liberal candidate, since dropped, who referred to the RCMP as the “Canadian Gestapo.”

Here in the riding of South Surrey-White Rock – not the riding I live in, I should add – we’ve had Liberal candidate Joy Davies replaced by Judy Higginbotham because of the former’s pro-marijuana views, which included suggestions that second-hand marijuana smoke isn’t harmful to children.

These are our leaders of tomorrow, people.

In my own riding, I’m still equally confused, even if none of the candidates there have yet to remove any feet from their mouths. My decision – and perhaps that of others in my neighbourhood – is clouded further still by the fact that we live on the border of two ridings, and election signs for each seem to overlap. It’s tough enough to decide between parties, let alone have to figure out which of a party’s two candidates is actually yours.

For people truly invested and interested, it’s not a problem. But in an election season that’s been screaming for change – for new, younger voters to come to the forefront – it’s just another roadblock.

So maybe, as my wife suggested, I’ll vote for the party I hate the least.

Or, and perhaps this is the best solution, I simply ignore party affiliation and vote for the individual candidate in my riding whom I think will do the best job locally. A person who will fight for local issues, who will be accountable to his or her local constituents, rather than just be another cog in the machine in Ottawa.

And if I still can’t decide come election day, maybe I’ll just vote for whoever looks most like Mr. T.

Nick Greenizan is a reporter at the Peace Arch News.

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