Yes, your vote matters—that’s why we have votes
By Rebecca Peterson, Staff Writer
The night of the Brexit vote, my family and I watched in mute horror as the online counter showed the UK tilting towards leaving the European Union (EU). Even as the “Leave” votes pulled ahead, I still had hope. It held at 51 per cent for quite a while. Such a slim margin, and in the end, the Brexiters only won by those few percentage points.
It was heartbreaking, infuriating, to see a campaign built on misinformation and fear succeed. But far worse was hearing from many who’d voted to leave the EU the next day.
There is a new, fun mashed-up word to rival the catchily-named “Brexit”—it’s called “Bregret.” And it’s something many Leave voters are feeling now.
In statements to news outlets and in hashtags on Twitter, voters have expressed shock and dismay that their vote to leave the EU caused the UK to leave the EU. Some say that they felt misinformed. Others have admitted that their vote was meant as a protest vote and that they never thought it would matter. That there was no way the vote to leave would win.
This likely provided much solace and comfort to the schoolchildren of colour and citizens with accents that weren’t instantly identifiable as “British” who have had people gleefully shouting at them to get out of the country since the referendum. There are many, many situations in life that may cause you to wake up the next morning and ask yourself, “What the hell did I do last night?” Voting for a decision that can cause ripple effects worldwide should not be one of them.
For those who felt misinformed, I have some sympathy. The Leave campaign told some hefty lies to get their way, one being that they would channel the money sent to the EU into the National Health Service, a promise that human carpetbag and confirmed lizard person Nigel Farage was quick to backtrack on the very next day. He cited it as a “mistake” on the part of the campaign he spearheaded, claiming that he would never say that personally, despite the fact that many citizens who voted to leave took that promise—which was widely circulated in propaganda on buses and billboards—as the reasoning behind their decisions.
Those who voted to leave simply because they hate immigrants, I have far less sympathy for. I can’t stand behind a nation with a long and bloody history of invading and destroying other countries and cultures, stating that the Polish couple who moved in next door are attacking their very way of life.
Those who I have no sympathy for? The “protest” voters.
Your vote counts. Your vote matters. Voting for a ridiculous result simply to express displeasure with the “establishment” is the most idiotic, destructively unhelpful thing I can think of. No politician is going to look at a vote to tank your country’s economy and close your borders and think “clearly this person is trying to tell us something nuanced that has nothing to do with the vote.” They’re probably going to think that you want to tank your country’s economy and that you say the word “immigrant” the same way Draco Malfoy says “mudblood.” There are millions of ways to protest and to make your voice heard. The voting booth is not the place to be sarcastic.
And for those who were “misinformed,” as I said, my sympathy is there, but it only extends so far. Most issues of a political nature have many facets. You cannot only look at one side of an issue and decide to stop there. You cannot cast your vote and then go home to research the issue. The fact that one of the most Googled phrases in Britain on the day after the vote was “what is the European Union?” is both telling and depressing beyond words.
Let this disaster stand as a cautionary tale against complacency and lack of critical thought. Let it stand as an example of what happens when fear mongering wins. And let us hope that our American neighbours look at this vote, and keep it well in mind when voting this November.