Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Why you have to vote.

So you live in Toronto, you're 18 years or older, a Canadian citizen, and you're not in jail?

Why aren't you planning on voting in the upcoming mayoral election, then?

Just don't really care? Can't be bothered? Hate Toronto?

Maybe it's against your religion to vote, maybe you're a pacifist, maybe you belong to a community that doesn't practice their right to vote, or maybe you just don't believe in voting and you never do.

These seem to me to be legitimate reasons--at least in that they are constant and don't change depending on whether or not you're feeling lazy or apathetic.

Here's what i don't understand, cannot condone, and find incredibly irritating and slightly offensive: 20/30 year olds, students or young professionals, people who enjoy all this city has to offer, who will probably live here for several more years(or the rest of their lives), who are just going "hey, i Ion't really want to vote in this mayoral election" for no real goddamned reason.

In an article on blog.to today Lauren Jones wrote that for the recent poll showing Rob Ford's lead 1012 people were polled. 558 of these respondents were 50 years old and 320 were over 60 years old. Jones points out the obvious--the poll shows a lead for ford, but will half the voters in the election be over 50? probably not.

But, I think Jones overlooks an obvious question, a question that plagues all elections -municipal or otherwise- how to get the young vote out. So maybe half the voters won't be 50 or older, but what percentage of 18-25 year olds will cast their ballot on October 25? And that's the traditional "youth vote" number, 18-24/25. But in reality, how many 25-35 year olds are participating?

The decision to NOT vote is an interesting one, especially this year when the stakes seem so high. Exhibit A: Rob Ford.

People of the city who don't want to vote, if you can read an article about Rob Ford then hear that he has a lead in the polls and STILL you don't want to vote, then maybe you should move out of the city. For real.

People complain about Toronto incessantly. In reality, we have a pretty decent city here. We have beautiful parks, we have SOME bike lanes, and we have unparalleled access to whatever food/products/lifestyle we want here. It's not as bad as we make it out to be but it's getting worse in subtle ways that could become big issues if the wrong person is elected October 25th.

When you decide not to be involved in the politics of the city in which you live, you give up the right to complain about certain things. Ff you don't vote then why can you complain about the services you enjoy? Can you honestly complain about the ttc when you take no action in trying to make the service one that you'll enjoy using? Can you complain about people being jerks on and off the road when you don't take any steps in making the city more livable for everyone?

Torontonians have a chance to prove that they aren't just 'elitist' snobs who are all talk and no action. By making sure that Rob Ford does not become mayor of this great city, this unique city, Torontonians are saying 'hey we aren't just jerks who complain, shop, and drink-- we're actually active citizens!"

Rob Ford winning this election means that some of us aren't doing our jobs, it means that we couldn't take five minutes out of our day to cast a ballot. Remember the first time Stephen Harper was voted into office? Remember the sting of the SECOND time that happened? It was reminiscent of the second time Bush was voted in(because, as we all know, the first time was rigged) and not only was it embarrassing to watch the conservative blue sweep across the map but it was scary.

Conservatives feed on apathy, they can sense the turning of a blind eye, and they strike when they think no one is watching. Harper did all of the things people said would never happen, and Ford will try to accomplish something similar.

Maybe people just don't pay attention enough to realize what's at stake here, in this election, now.

As a cyclist, I know I don't want Ford to be the mayor of Toronto because a city that is hostile to cyclists is not a city that can thrive positively. Just as a human, though, I don't think Rob Ford should be voted into the mayor's office because he is not only intensely conservative but he doesn't hide his hatred for everything that isn't him.

Ford thinks cyclists who are hit by cars deserve it, he thinks immigrants should not be allowed to live in Toronto anymore, and he thinks that only needle users and 'gays' get aids. He is on record saying all of these things.

Anyone who considers themselves in any way left, progressive, or even sympathetic to human concerns should be ashamed of their decision not to vote when the man in the lead uses this kind of language:

In 1899, Ida B Wells completed her research on lynching in the United States and published her results: in ten years there were between one and two hundred OFFICIALLY RECORDED lynchings occurring on an annual basis.

this included the burning of Sam Hose in Georgia:

"he was taken on quiet Sunday morning from his captors and burned to death with indescribable and hellish cruelty in the presence of cheering thousands of the so-called best people in Georgia-men, women, and children, who had gone forth on a christian sabbath to the burning of a human being as to a country festival and holiday of innocent enjoyment and amusement."

To invoke the language of lynching to describe homeless shelters being built in a city that has a HUGE lack of social services and supports for the homeless, Rob Ford sent a signal to Toronto about what kind of person he is.

If that doesn't compel you to go out and vote on October 25th then maybe Toronto is just as bad as people think it is.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...