Turning inner space into outer space

March 28, 2011

Voting is a waste of time if that's all you do

Every election we hear laments about how fewer people are bothering to vote. It’s seen as a sign of apathy, the fall of democracy, and possibly the end of Western civilization as we know it.

But the more I think about it, the more I’m forced to agree — to some extent — with those who say voting is a waste of time.

Let’s take Kamloops, for instance. Unless there is a major upset, the outcome is a foregone conclusion. The Conservative candidate, Cathy McLeod, will be re-elected. She will be re-elected regardless of whether the voter turnout is 20 per cent or 100 per cent. Unless you live in a swing riding, there is a lot of validity in saying that voting is a waste of time.

The problem with elections is that most of us believe our civic duty consists of reading the news, griping about what a bad lot we have to choose from, then grudgingly casting a ballot — knowing full well that it will make little difference in the grand scheme of things.

What we need to wake up to is what those in power, and those who seek it, already know: If you want to make a difference, you have to do a lot more than vote. Take fundraising, for example.

According to Wikipedia, election expenditures by Kamloops candidates have been fairly modest. The most ever spent was in 2008 by Cathy McLeod with $82,161. The second highest was John O’Fee when he ran for the Liberals in 2004 with $78,065.

For one person, that might seem like a lot of money. But a few fundraisers could quickly close the gap, especially for candidates whose ideas would truly upset the status quo. And there are a lot of people in Kamloops who are very good at fundraising — they just shy away from doing it at election time.

Of course, you could also volunteer for a campaign or simply make a donation.

The point is that if you sit back and wait for election day, your chance to be truly influential will have passed. The die will have been cast, because others will already have done what most of us can’t be bothered with — the hard work of influencing public opinion.