A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
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Saturday, May 16, 2009

To Vote or not to Vote….

…..is the question a very prolific blogger has recently raised by advocating NOT voting whilst still pressing for electoral and democratic reform. Having been strongly promoting STV for BC in the last few weeks I understand her frustration however I do not believe “opting out” is a productive way of addressing the flawed system under which we now operate, not accepting commentary that strives to ask the question “how does this help” or puts the other point of view does little to help with the dilemma we all find ourselves in. It is, in my view, anti-democratic in and of its self!

This post is to simply ask this. How do you expect to enable change democratically if you do not work within our, admittedly flawed, democratic system by voting for the best (of the worst) and pressuring that person (as best as you can) to seek change in both the electoral system and the actions and accountability of those who represent us. I suppose that one can pressure them without voting for them but that still does not excuse all those BCers who did not even bother to vote on the STV referendum, if that other 50% had voted perhaps you would have a democratically decided new system next time.

I invite that blogger and any others that have decided that “it is just not worth it” and did not or will not vote when given an opportunity to explain their logic to me, for I truly do not understand. I truly believe that the only way to change a democratic system DEMOCRATICALLY is to do so from within, using the existing system, and that means getting more involved not less. The only other option is to descend into civil unrest and “overthrow” the current government, but then what?

For your interest here is the comment which that blogger chose to delete…
“Whilst I understand you frustration I fail to understand how you expect to promote change democratically if you do not at least attempt to do so using the current (admittedly flawed) system. How does not voting change things for the better, how does it help those partys who may be striving to get their foot in the door to try and change things? There is much wrong with our political system, mostly due to undemocratic actions by the established partys but opting out (in my view) simply gives them a free ride.”

If you have some thoughts on this you may add your comments below, we will listen to BOTH sides of the debate even those who’s actions I may view as anti-democratic! Support Democracy - Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers


Pearce said...

I read the blog you are referring to. I was wondering which comment she deleted... It seems like a pretty important question, albeit it does sound rather rhetorical.

My initial take on her "opting out" was that STV was something she was incredibly emotionally invested in, and that her starting the "opting out" movement was a bitter, reactionary extension of her already professed desire for Vancouver Island to secede from Canada.

That being said, I feel a massive sense of disappointment that STV didn't pass. In that way I can at least partially understand her decision to divorce herself from the political process. However, I agree with you that any change must come from within.

Greg said...

I have voted for the NDP candidate in my riding, every election since 1979. Not once was my candidate successful. Not once has my vote mattered. The question is do I continue to vote NDP (or Green) and continue to not have my vote count or matter in any way. Or, do I vote Liberal or Conservative and join the big tent crew who are quite happy with the system the way it is thanks very much. Or, do I just opt out and watch the system collapse under the weight of its illogic?

I can tell you that I have chosen to opt out of the Ontario electoral process since the parties are not rewarded for attracting votes. I will continue to vote federally, where at least, the party of my choice gets funding based on my vote.

Rural said...

Greg, you make a good point re the funding and given the backlash from Harpers efforts to discontinue it many others agree, myself included. Alternative choices must be avalabe and if it takes a couple of dollars per vote to do that the perhaps we should indeed extend the funding to the Provincial system. Unfortunatly under our current system some of us will not get the representitive we would like, but that is democracy, or is it :)

Pearce, you are probably right in that it is a backlash from the STV result, she is not the only one left wondering what to do next!

Greg said...

Unfortunatly under our current system some of us will not get the representitive we would like, but that is democracy, or is it :)

Well, I wouldn't go so far as to call it undemocratic. It is democracy of a kind -- a poor limited kind of democracy (and if you read Jim Travers in today's Star)a weak and fading one. If it keeps heading in the direction it is heading, it won't matter what voting system we use. All the power will be concentrated in the PMO and Parliament will be moot.

Skinny Dipper said...

I can understand how she feels. This so-called democracy that we have is a charade. Why should we feel obligated to participate in this charade?

I worry about the decline in voter participation, not because of the actual percentages, but because when the time come that the government needs to rally the citizens to unite and support some kind of action such as dealing with an environmental or economic catastrophe, or terrorist action; the non-voting citizens will not care.

I also worry about the decline in democracy because citizens who have no power and no voice will seek solutions that may not be very nice. Symbolically, some people may go from using pencils on a ballot to using swords on the street.

I have heard comment that proportional representation is for losers. That may or may not be true. I would much rather have a few so-called losers sitting in a legislature or parliament than causing destruction on our streets because they have no voice and power under the current voting system.

Ms. M said...

Proportional Representation is for losers? Hm. Sounds like a bullying mentality. At any rate, it's about them, not about those of us who understand why change needs to happen (too few of us unfortunately).

I too of course am totally disappointed by the STV (and overall election) results. The first day I walked around in mourning (I even wore black). But I've been thinking ever since. Keep voting? Hell, yes. But also work outside of the current undemocratic system? Yes to that too. We can't order democracy - we have to build it. We have to do that one person at a time. I think we need to engage people, have more fun, get more folks out in community, feeling part of things, learning to care about others, learning that someone cares about their lives. This past BC election shows how disconnected people are. It gives us something to work for instead of constantly fighting against. As E.M. Forrester said: "Only Connect".

susansmith said...

Just read this blog post. Like others, I vote provincially and no where does my vote register in representation. I will continue to vote this way though, because it fights the political campaign rhetoric - you are wasting your vote by voting NDP. As that mentality continues to be used by liberals, for instance, as a campaign strategy, it diminishes the number of people who want to vote NDP, for instance (or Green perhaps), and don't.
For me, I was dismayed when Harper tried to eliminate the "per vote amount" for each party, as it is one reason to give folks to vote for the person/party they know won't win in a riding, but nonetheless, "counts" in terms of direct money to that party.
I'm sorry STV didn't work out in BC, but I much prefer some form of PP. That said, if I lived in BC, I would have voted yes, just to get rid of FPTP.