Sometimes I really hate democracy. Well ok, not democracy itself, but the responsibilities that come along with the rights that it affords all of us.
I’ve never been someone who could head out to my local polling station each election day and absentmindedly mark an X for a candidate who’s name I don’t recognize and who supports God knows what. So that being the case, I do my best to keep myself informed. I watch, listen to and read the news on a daily basis. I try to watch leadership and local candidates debates when I can. I talk to people around me and bounce what I’m hearing and the way I’m hearing it off of them so that maybe I can get a different perspective on the issues. In short, I do everything I can possibly do to make sure that come election day, I have all of the tools I could possibly need to make what I hope will be the right choice for me and for my country.
But there are times, like right now for example, when I stop and wonder if all the things I do to educate myself and the time it takes to do them really mean anything. Let me explain.
Up until Monday night, I was a decided voter. In spite of all of the so-called scandals and aledged corruption, I was voting Liberal, no doubt about it. Then I watched the debate and instead of making things crystal clear, it confused me. Paul Martin, as much as I like and generally agree with him and as smart as he is, didn’t impress me. Stephen Harper,who I could never vote for knowing what I know about what a Conservative government would mean and has meant in my lifetime, looked like an eloquent and somewhat honest guy and truth be told, even though he didn’t win my support based on governments of the past, he definitely won the debate in my eyes and in the eyes of a lot of other people. Jack Layton has some good ideas, at least I’m pretty sure he does. Now if he’d only stop with the “third alternative” stuff and tell me what they are, maybe I wouldn’t even have to write this. But between all of the cheapshots and rhetoric and general sidestepping of questions, I came away thinking what am I going to do? How can I possibly choose any of these people to be the face of my nation? Things got so bad that the one thought that’s stuck with me since that night is man, if Gilles Duceppe wasn’t a separatist and if he was the leader of a real, honest to goodness national political party rather than one that gets far more attention than it deserves for looking out for the interests of a select niche group of people, he’d be a pretty good choice right about now.
The local debate I listened to on the radio earlier today hasn’t been much help either. I’m not the biggest fan of our local Liberal MP Brenda Chamberlain, but she made a good case for herself. Phil Allt of the NDP made sense on a lot of the issues, but when somebody comes at you with hard numbers like our Liberal did, it’s pretty hard to dispute that. The only things that stuck with me about PC candidate Brent Barr are that he knows a lot of people, that he’s dumb enough to give out his home telephone number on his campaign literature and invite potentially crazy people into his home for coffee parties every second Saturday, and that no matter how genuine he may seem, he can’t help but take unnecessary shots at the other parties. If it wasn’t so early in the morning, I would have considered playing the do a shot every time he said “corrupt Liberal government” drinking game. As for our Green and Communist candidates Mike Nagy and Scott Gilbert, both had some ok ideas, but when it comes right down to it, Jim Harris [the leader of the Greens] is a goof who never really says anything of substance whenever he’s given the chance, and I honestly couldn’t tell you who’s in charge of the Communists without looking it up.
So what’s a guy to do? I’m not going to not vote, that’s out of the question. But when every choice you have has at least 1 thing about it that’s somewhat hard to overlook and when the guy who turns in the best performance come debate time is against just about everything you stand for, how do you vote and feel good about it knowing that the events of the next 4 years [or possibly less if we end up with another minority] are at least in part on your head? Sometimes I really hate democracy…