"The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all." — John F. Kennedy
I am a political newbie. A novice. An amateur. I care about our province, and I certainly vote. But when it really comes down to it, I know very little about politics.
Ask me who I voted for in the last election, and I have no problem remembering. But ask me why, and I can't give you a good reason. It probably has more to do with a candidate's love of Persian cats or daring Rod Stewart haircut than it does a firm stance on environmental issues or corporate tax cuts. While I understand the importance of making informed decisions when choosing a good university or non-hydrogenated margarine, I have yet to make an informed decision when voting. I am a political newbie.
At 28 years old, it's about time I understand the issues so I can engage in political banter at sophisticated cocktail parties, respond in opinionated outrage to campaign commercials, and confidently chime in to impromptu debates while riding the bus.
With the May 14 provincial election approaching, I have decided that this time is going to be different; this time I will be informed. I want to know what the big issues are, what makes our party leaders tick, and how party platforms propose to tackle the public's concerns.
Becoming politically savvy evokes anxiety for an amateur like me. I have to sift through an overload of messages, rhetoric, jargon, and buzzwords. I can't compete with the political junkie, and I don't intend to. I just want to make sense of the basics.
The next provincial government we choose will be responsible for making some significant decisions that affect British Columbians. The top concerns for voters, according to the Feb. 6 Justason Market Intelligence poll, are:
1. Health care and the economy
2. Pipeline and tanker proposals
3. Taxes, employment, environment, education, and social issues
Of the recent polls conducted since the new year, support for B.C. Premier Christy Clark and the Liberal Party is declining while support grows for Adrian Dix, leader of the B.C. New Democrats. However, a substantial number of voters are undecided. In the Angus-Reid public opinion poll from Jan. 17-18, when asked which leader would make the best premier, 26 per cent of respondents were not sure, and 18 per cent stated that none of the party leaders were suitable.
So although we know what's important for the province, 44 per cent of us don't know who can get us there — including me.
Will the Liberals win my vote because Clark and I share a female bond? Or will I choose the NDP because Dix has promised not to use my tax dollars to pay for his campaign ads? Voting Green would mean putting an altogether different party in the legislature. And as for the Conservatives? Well, I'm waiting for them to make an impression.
Over the next three months, I will embrace my electoral ignorance in pursuit of that informed vote. I'm determined that the next time I cast a ballot it won't hinge on the party leader's star sign ... even if I do favour Scorpios.