Don’t take democracy for granted

In Egypt, protests erupted after years of dictatorial rule and corruption. An entire country seemed to come together to finally overthrow an undemocratic and unfair ruling regime.

In Egypt, protests erupted after years of dictatorial rule and corruption. An entire country seemed to come together to finally overthrow an undemocratic and unfair ruling regime.

The death toll is estimated at almost 300, as peaceful demonstrators risked their lives for a better country.

It is an inspiring story, and one which brings to mind a poster I once saw while attending university. It had a photo of Nelson Mandela and the question: “Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison for the right to vote -What’s your excuse?”

That poster is something I think about every election, and especially during the last provincial election in 2009, when voter turnout hit a record low in B.C., with only half of eligible voters bothering to cast a ballot.

Now, it might be that sometimes it is hard to feel like you can see the point in educating yourself about the issues, and which candidates stand for what, when it all seems like just a bunch of political rhetoric.

But what happens when you don’t vote?

Essentially you hand over power to someone else. A small number of motivated voters gain the power and someone else will decide for you how your province will be run.

I can already hear the moans and groans from the general public about another election, how there’s really no choice, how nothing will really change anyhow.

But today we should all feel a little differently. In the shadow of Egypt’s struggle, we should all take a moment to appreciate just how lucky we are.

Not voting doesn’t really help the situation. If you want to make a statement about the lack of alternatives, it is probably more effective to spoil a ballot than to stay home. At least it showed you wanted to vote for something.

In all reality, things might not be drastically different if you vote, maybe you’ll just cast one more ballot for the status quo, but if everyone who didn’t bother to vote in the last provincial election voted one way, it would change our government. The potential for real change is there.

And if nothing else, it will show solidarity with the brave people of Egypt. It might show them that at least the families of those 297 people who have died so far for freedom in Egypt can feel like their loved ones didn’t die in vain, that democracy still wins.

In recognition of the sacrifices made recently in Egypt and throughout history and around the world for freedom, try not to take yours for granted, get out and vote this year.

I’m just sayin’.