The Non-Vote Alternative
In recent years, a growing number of individuals have become disillusioned by our current democratic process. In every election promises are made that invariably not kept. Power changes hands periodically between parties, but it seems that little changes for the majority of people for whom they claim to serve. Because our current system leaves so many individuals under-represented, alternative methods of being directly heard have been proposed.
1. Stop voting. Unless you feel that the levels of government are doing a great job, stop supporting the system that gives the illusion that you support it. Certainly one less cast vote may not ruffle any feathers; however, en mass would make a big splash. It would be hard to continue the current system if only 5% of the people were voting for a leader.
2. Contact your “leaders”. Instead of giving free range to those in power by marking a paper, e-mail them whenever you have an appropriate issue to raise. It begins with your city ward counselor, your MPP and MP. Issues relating to your area should concern them – if not, they are not representing. E-mail or call as necessary. The more actual citizens that raise alarms, the more likely they are to act. Remember, they want to be re-elected, and they do not know who has voted for them and who has not.
3. Get involved in your community. Even though we all pay many taxes, those tax dollars are allocated to projects on a national, provincial and municipal scale. These projects may not reflect your own community’s needs, or those one perceives as important. Join a volunteer organization (or start your own!) to support what you feel is important. Imagine what an organization might accomplish if everyone volunteered one day a month to a cause. It would be so overwhelming, that it’s likely that the volunteer needs of any organization would be maxed out. While donating money is great, time and effort is what non-profits need to get things done.
Voting is a very personal action, as is the decision to stop voting. Whether or not one does stop voting, they can still make themselves heard by contacting their representatives. While they are not always responsive, the more support there is for any given issue, the more likely they are to pay attention. While our representatives were elected to fulfill a position, it may be wholly irresponsible on our end as citizens to expect 12 ward counselors and a mayor to be able to accomplish everything we want without all of our help.