I hate voting. I do! I really, really do. Elections. Campaigning. Polling. Entering a middle school gym thirty-five years after I rightfully belong in one. The little golf score-keeping pencils. All of it, I hate.
I also hate democracy and FREEDOM. At least, I think that’s how the progression from patriot to traitor goes according to social media. Afghans clung to airplane wheels, ya know! These same folks equate the wearing of masks in public spaces to tyranny, so they might be a tad infatuated with hyperbole.
Whatever the case, voting has become the single most unpleasant recurring experience in my life. That’s some hyperbole of my own considering I’m burdened with this democratic act only once every few years. Combine federal, provincial, and municipal elections and I have fewer voting obligations than recommended prostate examinations, yet the latter seem far less dreadful.
Perhaps that’s because the thirty-six days leading up to my prostate exam are not filled with multiple proctologists making myriad increasingly ridiculous promises to earn my permission to shove their finger up my ass. Which is kind of too bad now that I think about it. They’d be in no position to pledge enhanced social programs or targeted tax cuts, but an ice cream and cuddle would go a long way in endearing them to both me and my sphincter.
It’s that campaign part that really makes the whole electoral experience unbearable. God it’s awful. A month or more of disingenuous shilling to the public by animated mannequins while hordes of pundits, pollsters, PR lackeys, and partisans scream at me in the hope I’ll choose their exalted leader as the bringer of disappointment for the next four years.
I avoid as much of this cringeworthy charade as possible, but I still feel dirty by association. As if just being of legal voting age affirms my complicity. I feel like I need a permanent disclaimer hovering above my head stating, “my existence is not an endorsement.” The second polls close, I take a long, hot shower in hospital-grade disinfectant.
I’m pretty sure I know why I hate it all so much. Elections involve the two things I’m most uncomfortable with: confrontation and decision-making.
I’ve been known to unleash the odd rant. Rage against the machine, as it were. Mostly in the privacy of my own home and mostly toward actual machines, but fellow humans have occasionally slipped into my crosshairs. Out in public, however, I’m as cowardly as it gets. Two strangers arguing discomforts me. Involve me personally, and my prefrontal cortex becomes a wet paper bag. I’ve choked up asking for a raise and wilted in the wake of a bold child.
Basically, my brain is not ideally constructed for organized conflict. Toss in the relentless vitriol crossing my Facebook and Twitter feeds, often from family, friends, and neighbours, and I flee into anxious, gut-gurgling hiding.
You do realize other people see this stuff, right? People you presumably like, possibly respect, maybe even love? People that have voted for the exact same candidate you are demonizing with increasingly irrational fervor? It gets hard not to personalize that level of loathing after awhile. I mean, what must you think of me?
This polarized environment also exacerbates the second of my failings. Society is cleaving into steadfast camps of black and white, while I’m a non-committal hog rolling in a pit of sticky, grey mud. I don’t have “right” answers to everything. I have my suspicions, my beliefs, maybe even my convictions, but each comes with caveats. There’s always uncertainty subverting my fortitude.
Look at my Voter Compass results. That’s as centrist as you can get. I’m a fence-sitter of almost exacting standard. No, this isn’t the most precise assessment, many questions don’t even offer my preferred answer as an option, but it nonetheless highlights the doubt-filled world of grey in which my mind resides.
I’m a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Some of this, but not too much. Some of that, but not too much. Definitely that. Definitely not this. Maybe. It’s possible. Yup, that’s sounds right. Yup, so does that. I really don’t know. I guess. I wish. Ugh.
And do you know what will never be posited by any of the parties, the media, or the electorate as we stumble toward yet another minority parliament? A Liberal – Conservative coalition. The two parties equidistant on either side of my lonesome, little grey circle on that chart … the two parties the majority of Canadians will vote for (likely two-thirds of us) … the two parties with the same room for cooperation as say the Liberals and NDP … are the two parties for which the thought of working together, in any fashion, is so preposterous, that it doesn’t warrant mentioning anywhere, ever.
Instead, I’m expected to pick a tribe and defend it to the end of time. That guy … that one singular guy … is the cause of ALL our problems! And this guy … this guy is our saviour! Never waver. Never change. Never doubt. Never compromise. And for the love of all that is holy, NEVER demand better of those you support when you can show that those you oppose have done something just as bad. Or worse.
That’s not an ideal situation for someone who struggles to even decide which of the 2,358 USB cables to purchase off Amazon. I’ll stare at eight cans of soup in my pantry for forty-five minutes wondering which I should eat, half of them the same. I can’t even decide what to do with my life. At 49! And you want me to definitively choose one of these six candidates based on 300 pages of campaign promises I have little expectation any of them will keep?
It’s remarkable I decide anything at all, let alone important stuff. But as we approach voting day, I have, miraculously, managed to make the following three determinations with reasonable certainty:
- This election absolutely, unequivocally, did NOT need to happen (especially during a continuing pandemic that showed every indication it was about to worsen … again).
- Hiding polarizing, influential provincial leaders is NOT an effective way to dispel “hidden agenda” accusations (especially during a continuing pandemic that showed every indication it was about to worsen … again).
- Nobody, and I do mean nobody, can EVER accuse an opposing political party of trying to buy votes EVER again!
Oooooo baby, have we given up on fiscal sanity or what? We didn’t feign a courtesy flush on that pipedream. We just dropped a bomb and strutted straight out the door without so much as washing our hands.
Debt is no longer a concern. For anyone. I don’t think most of you even consider it an actual thing anymore. GovERnMenTS cAn’t dEFaUlt. Left or right, deficits are where it’s at, baby, and we are all in. You get a social program! And you get a tax cut! And you get a stimulus package! And none of you have to pay for any of it! Jiggety jiggety!
Yes, yes, some of you fabulously rich folks might see a tax increase, depending on which machination of governance comes to power. And there’s always the vague “waste” and “red tape” to find and cut. But none of it will come close to paying for all the promises. Hell, it won’t even pay for the status quo. We’re just gonna “grow” ourselves out of this masturbatory free money fantasy land.
I tell you what. Wanna know who I would vote for without a moment’s hesitation? Any party that presented a platform consisting of a single blank sheet of paper. No promises. Nothing. Just a blank paper held up to throngs of news cameras and then promptly tossed into the recycling bin.
Their slogan would be “Uhh … maybe we should chill a bit?” and during the debates the leader would just sit there sipping away at a double rye and coke, raising their eyebrow, pursing their lips, and slightly recoiling their head every time another leader spoke.
Not because I think things are perfect the way they are, but because you’ve collectively lost your freaking minds. All of you. Red, blue, orange, green, purple, also blue but lighter, also green but lighter … all of you … completely bonkers. From the deluded to the assholes, and everyone in between, you’re nuts. 35 million seagulls from Finding Nemo. I want nothing to do with it.
Which is a great copout for a decision-phobe like me. And it kind of makes living in the Calgary suburbs a blessing. After all, my vote still doesn’t matter. I already know who my member of parliament will be. I knew it the day the writ dropped, and I’ll know it until the day I leave, be it via moving van or body bag.
If only someone would promise to change that.