Politics, Democracy, Voting
12th May 2011Posted in: Blog 0
Politics, Democracy, Voting
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A strange thing happened on my way to the voting office a couple of weeks ago. As i was moving over to vote in the last Canadian federal election i realized that i had an opinion. My opinion was apparently shared by a lot of quebecers. It was that the NDP was a good choice for government. My opinion then was similar to that of enough other people in my province to make the NDP represent Quebec as the official opposition to the Harper conservative party.  So i guess that is democracy in action. Somehow the conservatives won a majority goverment even though a minority of voters voted for them. It's nuts, but that is how it works. Those of us who did not want Harpers conservatives to lead our country could not agree on who we did want instead. Except for Quebec, where everyone seems to have said: "we want liberal and NDP and we no longer want Bloc or conservative". This is all very interesting but what is most curious to me is that i realized on my way to the voting station that i had an opinion. Even more interesting than that, is was the realization that i have no clue how my opinion camed to be formed. I knew i could not stand the bloc, as a bilingual and multicultural person of middle class and of diverse ethnic heritage. I also knew as an artist and art therapist that i could never vote conservative because i am infatuated with the idea of a society where people care  for eachother and take care of each other. Still, one day, i awoke to realize that the idea of voting NDP was firmly rooted in my mind and it was never shaken out from that time onwards. What happened? How did the notion that the NDP was the voice of choice get into my mind? As I traced back over the preceding weeks, i ran through memories of what i had heard in morning radio, internet, newspaper and mass media. I discovered that the access to my attention had been overwhelmingly been dominated by NDP campaigning efforts. They had a billboard in front of my door, they had radio and telephone messages broadcast directly into my home and I remember continuously hearing polls which indicated, through the voice of radio announcers that: "it is remarkable but the NDP seems to be sweeping Quebec". There was this feeling that i wanted to be part of a cohesive whole and vote together to change something. I became entranced in a subliminal kind of way with the idea of being at one with everyone in my neighbourhood, my province, my country. I still do not fully understand the ramifications of having a majority government in power given only a minority of voters voted for it. This means that most people are against the government which currently governs them even though democracy puts the power for election in the hands of the people. So in short, the reason why i became an NDP supporter was not because i became particularly educated about the party or its platform but because they more successfully reached and held my attention through the various channels. As an aside, i just want to say that the next morning,  I felt bad for a few people i know who voted for the Bloc Quebecois only to wake up and realize that the party they voted for, no longer exists. I traced back in my memory to find how my opinion got formed. How did i become convinced to act in that way. I was pretty sure i was making the best vote i knew how to make, but how did i come to feel that way? Basically, i was able to trace back that i had been exposed to a number of commentaries on poll results which framed the NDP's standing in such a light as to suggest that this was a rare and spectacular event because the NDP was moving forward and looked like it would sweep Quebec. All of a sudden, i became convinced that there was real change on the horizon because this NDP wave has never happened in Quebec before. Here were the factors influencing my decision: the huge poster of NDP candidate Benskin sitting right outside my front door, the phone calls asking me if i would vote NDP, the home visit by the two guys pushing the party, the radio morning announcements, the poll results and their interpretations. My brain basically got washed, but not without my consent.

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