Photo: Katye Slepian

Don’t be afraid of politics

There has been a noticeable similarity between many eligible voters this (not to mention others) election season.

When asked what a person is looking for in a candidate, what topics they care about most or their general feelings about the election, a common response may come up — I don’t follow politics, therefore, I have no opinion.

One does not need to know anything about politics to know what they want the next four years to hold, whether it be lower taxes, better child care programs, a low-income housing expansion in their community or a promise to improve the infrastructure and highways.

These are basic things that most likely come up in conversation with friends, family and co-workers.

If we don’t express what we want in a candidate, a party or a policy, they (the government, parties and candidates) will tell us what we want, or what we need (or what we should want and need).

When a person feels like their opinion doesn’t matter, whether it be political or otherwise, over time it can create an apathy towards that subject.

And with voter apathy comes lower turnout rates.

In the 2015 Federal election, 68.3 per cent of the voter population showed up to vote — the most since 1993. That number dipped to about 66 per cent four years later, and B.C.’s turnout was less at 65 per cent.

Continuing with B.C.’s voter turnout, just over 61 per cent of registered voters cast a ballot in 2017. Though this statistic is also lower than the national rate, it is up from the 57 per cent voter participation rate in 2013.

And while the request for mail-in ballots saw a rise this year due to the pandemic, it doesn’t mean voter turnout will be any better — COVID-19 could put yet another spoke in the wheel of 2020.

In a world where it is very easy to voice your opinion to friends and family at the click of a button or tap on a screen, it might also be the reason why we feel our opinions don’t matter, especially if we don’t feel like we are well-versed in the topic at hand.

But, even the people who claim to know a lot about politics might not know as much as they think or, and social media causes this to happen, they live in an echo-chamber, only hearing one side of the story, or the side they most want to hear.

Conversing with friends, family, co-workers and strangers about the ideas you have, what you wish government would do, what they shouldn’t do or what they didn’t do, can make us aware of the other options that are out there. Heck, a person may learn a thing or two they didn’t know when they woke up that morning.

Don’t be afraid of politics. Embrace it. The choice that is made by hundreds of thousands of people over the course of a few days will affect millions over the course of the following four years.

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