We’re not too dumb for democracy, we’re just ignorant

We often hear people say that democracy gives power to the people, and this is true in the sense that we, the voters, get to choose who represents us.



By Martin Castro (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: October 15, 2014

It is the responsibility of the individual to research where their vote will go. (Image: Alberto Garcia/ flickr)

We often hear people say that democracy gives power to the people, and this is true in the sense that we, the voters, get to choose who represents us. Individually we don’t have the power to make a final choice about any one particular issue, but we do have the power to add our two cents into the poll. Our vote will then be tallied and a choice will be made based on the results.

But democracy works on the principle that the public will go out, after having evaluated each party’s pros and cons across the board, and cast a vote based on an informed decision about these parties’ values and policies. This is what we all wish would happen, but too often it doesn’t. Sometimes, people don’t even vote.

People need to have the will and energy to go out and participate in our democracy; otherwise, why have a democracy at all?

Educating ourselves is equally important. A good number of young people either refuse to vote, or vote based on very superficial qualifications.

Oh, the NDP are liberal right? I like liberals, but … do I like the liberal NDP more than the actual Liberals? That’s usually what I hear from people who aren’t actually informed about their decision. This is disappointing because the system is there to give us a way to represent ourselves, but if we don’t know how to use the system, or if we misuse it, then what is it there for in the first place?

In high school, I heard this statement more times than I care to count: “The Green Party wants to legalize weed, right? I’m voting for them!” Whoever you are: if this is you, get out. Inform yourself about the choice you’re going to make. If you really don’t want to vote because no party really speaks to you, then spoil your ballot. How many people have you heard say they’re not going to vote because they don’t like any of the people or parties running? Tell them to go in there and write that on their ballot. That action will send a message: it lets the government know you’re not happy with what they are doing, and informs them that something needs to change. But sitting there yelling at your television and griping about your government isn’t going to do anybody any good.

We need to educate ourselves. I urge you, if you’re not sure who to vote for or why you should or should not vote for a party, check them out on the internet and research their platform. Do they cater to your needs? Do they appeal to your personal philosophy? If not, ask yourself which of the other parties do.

We need to be more involved in what our government does. Not only do we need to make decisions about who we choose to lead our country — and province, and municipality — we need to make informed decisions. If we refuse to do so, then we lose the right to bitch when the government does something we don’t like.

Are we too dumb for democracy? No, but we are too ignorant and uninformed. If we want the government to be held accountable for its actions, then we have to be held equally accountable for our own actions (or lack thereof) as well.

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