Often in North American culture we take for granted the very democratic system that many citizens of oppressed nations across the globe would sacrifice their very lives for just to have a voice.
Admittedly, politics can be as dry as melba toast with talks on infrastructure, deficits/surpluses and tax rates when you live in a society of abundance in North America compared to many other parts of the world with your specialty coffees in the morning, Netflix at the ready and vacations to sunny locales at your fingertips.
There is also the real possibility that North Americans have tuned out the political process, viewing the campaign trail of would-be politicians simply as a matter of spin with little substance, promises made that are quickly broken once one is elected. Some political battles are merciless in their lack of tact, devolving from the topics that affect voters which should be discussed, to Mudslinging 101 with ad campaign assassination attempts on an opponent’s character.
But whatever lack of pull politics may have in drawing people’s attention in our neck of the woods, that does not mean Albertans should take for granted when they are able to cast their vote May 5 for their local MLA in their riding.
In this information age, one can be only a few Google key strokes away with various news articles to see how particular parties view issues that are important to any particular voter. Be it education, health care, infrastructure, public service costs, political process —information is readily available for those who make even a cursory effort to be informed.
In the Taber/Vauxhall areas, forums are available for locals to attend to meet their local candidates in the various political parties, hear their platforms and grill them in a question period on topics important to voters.
Taber’s will run on Thursday from 7-9 p.m. at the Heritage Inn and Vauxhall’s will run on April 30 at 7 p.m. at the local Legion branch.
There are several avenues for a voter to become informed. With all the sources that are available out there, ‘too busy’ is not an excuse to not have your vote become informed to some degree. For an uninformed vote who just accepts a party because their grandfather voted that way is just as dangerous as a person not exercising their democratic right to vote at all.
As the years pass, platforms of various political parties can evolve so nothing should be taken for granted.
Trends are at least promising in the political process as of late. In Alberta Election 2012, it drew more voters to the polls than any provincial election there since 1993.
Voter turnout stood at 57 per cent, according to Elections Alberta. The 2012 election attracted higher voter turnout than any contest since 1993, when the Progressive Conservatives, led by Ralph Klein, faced off against Laurence Decore’s Liberals in a hard-fought race that recorded a 60 per cent turnout.
Electoral turnout dwindled in subsequent elections in 1997, 2001 and 2004. It hit an all-time low in 2008, when only 41 per cent of eligible Albertans opted to cast a ballot.
Alberta saw its highest voter turnout in 1935, when 82 per cent of eligible voters turned out and the electorate turfed the United Farmers of Alberta from power in favour of Social Credit.
Not respecting the political process to any degree and then complaining about it afterwards in which you did not participate, is the lazy-man’s critic.
Whether what is important to you is a singular topic or multi-layered, find out how your local politician stands on those issues and take them to task if they fail to deliver on their platform if elected. Memories should be long when it comes to our elected representatives.
It should be every Albertan’s duty to be plugged into the political process to some degree in a sign of respect for the people who fought for this freedom over the years.