By Sean Wetselaar
On Aug. 4, the longest federal political campaign in memory kicked off. At the time, while everyone was still basking in the dog days of summer, going to the beach and doing whatever the hell it is people do in August, those who were paying attention just moaned.
Another election? I have to pretend to care about politics again? It’s how many days?
It’s true that election fatigue set in quick this year, and for many of you, you’re probably tired of hearing people talk about Harper, Trudeau, Mulcair and May. You’re probably exhausted by discussions on deficits and investment, and who actually understands income splitting anyway?
But there’s a very important aspect to this election that you’re probably missing if you haven’t been paying close attention.
The race is really goddamn close.
How close? Well, over the course of the election we’ve seen all three major parties (Conservative, Liberal and New Democrats) polling at around a third of the vote each. Recent polls show the NDP dropping to around 25 per cent of the vote, while the Liberals and Conservatives are neck-and-neck at around 31 and 32 per cent respectively. And although the NDP’s numbers may be slipping a bit, there’s no denying this is one of the closest federal elections we’ve ever seen.
What does that mean for you? It means that the argument you’ve probably heard a lot of your friends make, or that you may have made yourself — “My vote doesn’t matter” — is even more bullshit than usual.
In 2011 just 38.8 per cent of youth aged 18 to 24 voted, compared to 61.1 per cent turnout overall. For those aged 65 to 74 there was a 75 per cent turnout.
Now you’re probably tired of people telling you that young people have the potential to swing elections, and that the reason parties tend not to target our demographic is that we historically don’t turn out to the ballots. But just this one time, I think it bears repeating.
You, yes you, have the power to shape this election. You can be part of our generation moving into the political spotlight, and you can help create a government that actually represents your values and beliefs.
If you don’t want that, then carry on my disenfranchised son. But I’ve heard too many friends complain that government doesn’t care about them, then decide not to vote. The advance polls are open right now and election day is on Oct. 19.
The simple truth is that you might find politics boring. You might feel that the issues that they talk about on the debates don’t matter to you. You might be bored shitless by the constant media coverage of a weird alternate universe comprised of only angry, old white dudes. But you live in this country too, and barring a career move into politics, the best way to change all the things you hate about politics, or at least start to affect them is through voting.
If all us young whippersnappers got together and decided to vote, we might find we have a lot more power than we think.
I think that we can do a whole lot better than 38.8 per cent, and I think you probably agree with me.
So take a few minutes and do the civic duty thing. I promise it’s worth it.