I am a Canadian citizen and am fully aware of both my right and my responsibility to vote. I take both of these seriously. I am always startled and a little dismayed when I see that in the last federal election, only 37.4 percent of the voters aged 18 to 24 actually voted, just a little over one in three. I can only speculate as to why most young adults think it unnecessary to vote. My thought is that they find Canada so safe, so uninspiring that they cannot be bothered to learn about the issues and to take the few minutes required to make their choice. If it does not make any difference, why bother?
They need to understand that the right to vote was not always a given … and need not be in the future. If they choose not to exercise their right to vote now, there is no guarantee that they will always continue to have that right. Don’t believe me?
The citizens and voters in Germany in 1932 never thought that they could possibly lose their rights. Hitler and his National Socialists, a nice innocuous name unless you contracted it to be NAZI, used parliamentary rules to co-opt the German parliament, then promptly starting removing human rights from the population. They started with Jewish rights, and we all know what happened to most German Jews. The forms of government and of law and order continued to exist, but they were perverted, a piece at a time, until they all became part of the NAZI machinery. It took a long and bloody war to overthrow that particular government.
But you don’t think that it could happen here? Take a look at the current government’s contemptuous attitude towards parliament. Look at Harper’s view of a coalition government as undemocratic. If you don’t think that this is possibly the beginning of a long slow descent into a totalitarian state, please have a look at history.
Democracy is NOT a given and it is not a natural state of affairs. Ask the Canadian women who had to fight as far as the British Privy Council to get recognized as persons in October of 1929, after the Canadian Supreme Court had unanimously denied that right.
The right to vote was bought at an enormous cost and we have it now. The responsibility to vote … and to vote responsibly … is yours, but you must exercise this right or face the potential of losing it. Your vote DOES make a difference.