After it was official and the results of the provincial election were announced, I decided to check on social media to see what people were saying about it. I expected mixed reactions from utter joy to apocalyptic predictions. There was plenty of rhetoric, “I’m leaving this dump for Alberta”, “this province is going to be bankrupt” etc. However, I was curious at the number of people calling their fellow Ontarians “stupid a$$holes” etc., just for exercising their right to vote for whomever they want to. I was shocked however, when two members of my family took to social media for a rant and to call everyone who voted Liberal “idiots”, which would include members of their family, their friends and their neighbours. When some unknown person goes on social media and spouts venom at others, it doesn’t hit as close to home as when it’s someone you actually know. I wondered, why such anger and frustration was directed towards others like this?
When someone gets so upset that they react in this way to an election, I often wonder why. I am passionate about politics and have an opinion, but I’ve never lashed out at people I know in this way. I post my opinions and reactions to events in the political world, but never would insult someone I know. I’ll defend my position or criticize something that I think is wrong, but it’s never personal and if I even thought I was getting upset enough to attack someone personally, I would like to think that I would know that it’s time to take a deep breath and push away from the keyboard for a break. There have been elections where I’ve voted, but not seen the result that I wanted. It certainly didn’t make we want to behave like this towards people that I know. Instead, it motivated me to get involved.
Then, a thought occurred to me after reading these things. I wondered, how many of these people (including my family members) actually took an active part in the political process? Did they volunteer in a campaign? How many of them became members of a party? How many of them spoke to neighbours, family and friends and made sure that all of them got out and voted? How many of them volunteered at the polls? How many of them wrote about their own thoughts and beliefs? How many were actually knowledgeable on current issues? How many tried to speak to any candidates or attended events? I think that the answer is probably VERY low. Oh yes, there are trolls out there who spend their hours trying to incite people, but sadly, most people simply don’t get involved. You would think someone who appears to care that much about the election would get involved. But they don’t. Instead, they just aim their malice at anyone who exercises their right to vote. By getting involved, you can influence others to support your party and candidate. If you believe that strongly in your party, why wouldn’t you do what you can to make it more successful? Because it’s easier to sit back and hate, than it is to push away from your keyboard and get involved.
I have heard some people say that there were no good choices in this election. So I would ask the people that said that, what party’s platform appeals to you the most or the least? But none of these people really knew much about the platforms of the parties. Some even said they weren’t going to vote because of the perceived poor choices. Many people throughout the history of our country have made great personal sacrifices so that we would have the right to vote. In my opinion, not voting is inexcusable. I think voting is one of the most important things we do as Canadians. If you don’t like the choices, protest by casting a vote for an independent or the party that is least popular. If the independent or the unpopular party gets a lot of votes, the other parties will recognize that they have to earn peoples’ votes back. You can even go to the poll and decline your vote. Elections Ontario keeps track of how many people do this and will share this information with the parties, if requested. Your vote is your opportunity to influence what happens to you and the people most important to you. I’m very grateful that I get that chance and I take advantage of it.
I speak to people on a regular basis whose political beliefs don’t exactly align with my own. I listen, I think about what they have to say, sometimes I debate with them and sometimes I even agree with them. But the key is, I listen and speak to others who don’t think like I do. If you only ever listen to what you want to hear, you are insecure, uninformed and doing everyone that you talk to a disservice. What are those people (who only listen to what they want to hear) afraid of? Are they afraid that someone else will change their mind? Are they afraid that maybe they’ll realize they might be wrong? Are they afraid other people might have good ideas? This type of insecurity is why these people are referred to as ‘sheep’. These people just blindly repeat talking points, don’t listen to anything but what they want to hear and never learn anything for themselves. Sometimes talking to other people actually helps reinforce your own beliefs!
So the next time that you decide to take out your anger out on the world because of an election result, stop and ask yourself these things: Did I support my party and candidate by volunteering with the campaign? Did I sign up to become a member of my party or contribute financially? Did I go to debates and party events to support my candidate? Did I talk to different people about the issues and listen to what they had to say? Did I volunteer to help in any way in the election? Did I write to people about my own thoughts based on research that I’ve done? If you’re answer is ‘no’ to all of these things, then this is what I have to say to you – “If you’re going to get angry at other people because of the result of the election (or because they exercised their right to vote), but you didn’t get involved, YOU’RE the biggest idiot of all!”