Why vote?

A letter to my younger self
By Rommel Cadag, Contributor

You must’ve heard that there is a federal election coming up.

Either you’re getting inundated by political ads through your newsfeed or the older folks around you are talking about it—their voices tinged with a mix of indignation, concern, and frustration. You look at the media surrounding the elections, and you see how ugly it can be. Salacious scandals, social media trolls, and tales of broken promises; it drones on and on.

You wonder what this has to do with you. You must start “adulting” soon. That entails finding a job—or the alternative—going back to school in order to find an even better paying job. That’s what “adults” do, after all. That process itself can be daunting. Sprinkle in some social life, a touch of hobbies, a tinge of other miscellaneous responsibilities, and  you will certainly feel overwhelmed. And now, since there’s an election coming up, you’re expected to fulfill your civic duty to partake in something that for most of your

life seemed to exist in the periphery.

So why vote? Why care for that matter?

Because you matter; your voice matters. And yes, I am well aware of how cheesy that sounds—but it needs to be said.

Back in high school, history just meant dates and names and how many of those you could pack into your head and regurgitate on an exam sheet come assessment time. But upon closer examination, history reveals the “two steps forward, one step backward” progress of humanity as a whole. It talks about how rulers governed, how technologies invented, how wars were fought, how nations formed, and how rights were painfully earned. One of the rights fought for and earned is the right to vote—the ability to coerce how your leaders will act regarding various sociopolitical issues.

It’s easy to take for granted something we’ve always had. It’s common to forget that in Canada, universal suffrage for all adults, including women and minorities, was guaranteed in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms only in 1982. That isn’t a far-off memory. It took time and effort to get there, and it’s a travesty to squander something that your forebears fought so hard for.

“That’s all well and good, but what’s one drop of water in an ocean?” is what conventional wisdom might say. In the vastness of, well, everything, it’s common to feel helpless. When the scale gets dialed up to eleven, it’s a simple feat to justify inaction. Looking at the bottom line, your efforts won’t matter anyway—one vote in a country of millions.

But conventional wisdom is wrong in this regard. History has taught us that change can start with one person. Rosa Parks could’ve just stayed where she was required to stay by law—at the back of the bus. It would’ve been easier. But she didn’t. Momentum has to start somewhere. Someone needs to look at inevitability right in the eye and call its bluff. Kobayashi Maru be damned. Call it being irrational; call it faith; call it hope. Compared to civil disobedience, voting doesn’t seem so hard now, does it?

Voting, in this case, becomes a matter of self-efficacy. Do you believe that you are capable of exerting control over yourself and your environment? The baby boomers have had their fill. You get to inherit the Earth that they will leave to you. Voting is the first small step—so take it, and ensure you are heard. Do it to boost your confidence in your ability to affect change. And finally, vote so you can rightfully take your place as a citizen of a democratic nation.