Many years ago a senior public relations guy gave a tongue-in-cheek speech to a service club about the people we elect to parliament. The theory he presented was that we should also have stupid Members of Parliament because stupid people should be entitled to representation. As politically incorrect as the message might have been, it came to mind when a reader accused us of having “distain” for “poorer socio-economic groups.”
It can come as something of a surprise to be accused of putting other people down. The subject under discussion was the extent of illiteracy in Canada and the people who come to the polls and yet are unable to perform the basic function of voting. It is insulting to be told you look down on them. Having worked in many elections for either Elections Canada or as a functionary of a political party, we have always been impressed by the accommodations Elections Canada will make for the voter. Canadians can be very proud of the Elections Canada tradition.
But we do have concerns with the admonition to people just to get out and vote. Would it not make more sense to say: “Think about it and then vote”? Many people lead complex and busy lives and are not in touch with politics. It is not that they have no interest in community or country but politics might not be as important to them.
The reason we are such a strong advocate of the ground game (canvassing and getting voters to the polls) in politics is because of the very critical need to talk to all voters. Canvassers in politics are asked to listen. They are given a basic statement for the voter at the door but then they need to listen to that voter and report back to the campaign headquarters with key comments. It is the sum of these doorway conversations that influences the wrap-up and sometimes the results of the local campaign.
But we will never be an advocate for making everybody vote. We will fight to ensure everyone has the right but there are people who are hard to motivate. Having a nephew who is mentally challenged, we rarely discuss elections with him. It is not something that interests him. It is more important to reassure him of his worth as a human being.
As a writer, you can hardly live in a vacuum. You listen to people about their lives and experiences. You encourage feedback (positive and negative) from readers. And you share your opinions. If you have no opinions, you have nothing to write about.
And frankly we do not believe in electing stupid people in politics. By us all paying a bit more attention, we can do better.
Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry
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