As citizens of the "free world" -- North Americans, at least -- we have a great power bestowed upon us: the right to vote. Yet this basic right is often taken for granted. Understandably, enacting one's support for politicians can be frustrating, but fundamentally they are chosen by us to manage our tax dollars. And listen up: you pay taxes.
Over 35 years, the NDP has seen its share of the popular vote decline and its actual vote stall, despite an electorate that has nearly doubled in size over the same period. Parties that don't grow their base lose and risk withering away. The message for the NDP in all these numbers is ominous and it's not just about Adrian Dix. It may have more to do with the brand.
Over the past three decades, the percentage of British Columbians who actually vote has steadily fallen, from more than 70 per cent to a little over half last time out, when nearly one out of every two voters seemingly slept the day away and never bothered to cast a ballot. In fact, B.C. has the dubious distinction of having some of the lowest voter turnouts in the country, which says a lot when you consider that some of those other provinces don't have much to boast about either.
Where politicians and pundits are right is that there is more political power in our generation than even we realize. Organizations, social movements and politicians lusting after "young voters" is actually making the problem worse. The narrowing of electoral participation as a direct translation to political action has led us to miss the forest for the trees, a forest that in Canada is probably being threatened to be clear cut, plowed for a pipeline, or removed to make way for a new mine -- and that's a big, big problem.
When Dalton McGuinty was down in the polls, Hudak seemed prepared to let the Liberals self-destruct without comment from him. Maybe if Hudak had run a campaign on silence, instead of uttering banalities and refusing to answer certain pointed questions, he'd have done better in Toronto and urban centres.
Perhaps the most common misconception is that young Canadians lack faith in democracy. Anyone who believes this simply hasn't looked at the evidence. Youth have just as much (or little) faith in our democratic process as their parents' generations, and it doesn't explain the difference in voter turnout.