On Voting

There has  been a lot of talk on our parts these days on the upcoming election (and of course, it’s been all over the internet/radio/news as well).

Today I watched a short clip of “highlights” from the “debate” last night and was pretty appalled. It reminded me of the Roman Empire and the Colosseum. It was a mud-slinging shit show and for lack of deeper analysis, I thought it was pretty much a giant heap of crap. 2 hours of watching 4 old, white men call each other names.

Before I say anything else, I want to tell you that I like politics. I studied political science for a lot of years and I think it’s really interesting. Although, I can’t help but feel like this election has become a really bizarre American Idol meets popularity contest meets I’m on “team Jen/Angie/Jacob/Edward” t-shirt. It’s weird. And I can only speak for myself, but sometimes I do this with sports teams, I get so hooked on “my team” winning that it really isn’t about the game, or who is deserving, or the superior athlete…It’s more that I want to be “right” and I hate that feeling, especially when the “other” team clearly is skilled/talented/ nice. I wonder if that can be the same in politics too…

Secondly, I want to also say that in parts of the world people are dying for the chance to vote in a government. I realize that while what we have is by no means perfect here, we are in a place of privilege.

And finally, I want to tell you that I think it’s important to vote- to at least show up and put pen to paper, even if that means scratching a ballot. Apathy gets us no where.

Phew, all of that being said…

Matt and I have been talking a lot about how it feels pretty terrible to feel like we “have” to vote for the “best of the worst”  if you know what I mean.  Furthermore, it feels a bit inevitable that we’re going to have another Harper government and I’m not a fan of his policies (although I think he has pretty good speech writers and it’s unfortunate that he appeared to be the most civilized in the debate last night, but I digress..)

Ok, back to the idea of choices that stink- choose this party or that party. I don’t like any of my choices. And I think we have been fooled or lulled into thinking that voting is the full definition of civic duty…because I think, if anything, voting is the tip of the iceberg of what it means to be an engaged citizen.

We have a really, really great country. We’re amongst the wealthiest, healthiest, luckiest people in the world. People have died in shipping containers trying to gain access to this country. People, politicians,  and lobbyists have worked hard to create a society where we have (mostly) free health care, good schools, social safety nets (although imperfect) to help people out. BUT, we also live in a HUGE country and a country that looks like we’ll have ANOTHER term of the Harper government to deal with…people are going to fall through the cracks. They will. And yes, we vote because we want our opinion to count in who we elect to represent us, but what about the other 364 days in the year? What are we doing then?

Case in point: immigration is important. I want a government that believes in fair, just and dignity-giving  immigration policies. So, I may vote for the party that I think is going to “fight” for that.

But is there another way? An additional way?

A woman from my church lives in a building downtown and works with an organization called movein (I’m not overly Evangelical and I am in NO means saying that we need to try to “covert” people). She lives in this building in a marginalized neighbourhood and has befriended lots of the families who live there. She has given away beds and shared meals. One of the Roma families in her building is most-likely getting deported and she is doing everything she can to help them…logistically and through prayer and friendship. She is demonstrating “immigration justice” with flesh on. It costs a lot more than ticking off the “right” box on our ballots, but the relationships she’s built are more than worth it. She’s living what she believes. And that is inspiring.

The government is important. We need to actively fight for strong social policy that protects the marginalized and isn’t batshit. BUT- I’ve been convicted that we can do so much more.

So, vote, for sure…vote. But then, let’s use our imaginations and figure out beautiful ways to be come the fully engaged citizens that are needed in these days. Instead of being caught up in the cynicism of another Harper government, let’s just start living in the way that we want the world to look like…that’s our third choice. I don’t want to be represented by whiny, lying, white, heterosexual men. I want to be represented by the people in my community who are doing beautiful, soul-filling protects/activities/endeavors and genuinely making my city a more inclusive, safe and joy-filled place.

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