But I was a Boy Scout
October 25, 2010 2:52 PM   Subscribe

Do I Vote?

So, Voting closes in 3 hours in Toronto. We have the racist, homophobic, so-con who might win, the slimy lying sociopath who might win, the ineffective leftist who will not win, a bunch of fringe candidates, and for the first time since I was 18 no one that I can basically stomach. As well, voting will literally not solve the three largest problems that Toronto has.

The councilor I like is polling at 70 per cent, so he will win. The school trustee does not affect me at all, because I do not have any kids or any friends with kids in the area.

I have voted in every provincial, municipal, and federal election since I was 18. This will be the first time in 12 years that I have not voted.

Who do I vote for?

Do I vote?
posted by PinkMoose to Law & Government (28 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Write in 'Sammy Mazola Jr'. You'll feel good about it.
posted by mazola at 2:55 PM on October 25, 2010


And by that I do mean that spoiling your ballot feels better than not voting.
posted by mazola at 2:58 PM on October 25, 2010


Go vote. The act of voting shows that you give enough of a darn about how your government works to bother to show up. Low voter turnout tells politicians they can do whatever they want because no one cares. A disengaged population is good for special interests.

Also, the school trustee may not directly affect you, but the education of kids in your community is still an important service and it's in your interest that it be done well.
posted by zachlipton at 2:59 PM on October 25, 2010 [7 favorites]


I'd say that if you don't vote, you'd be hypocritical to complain about the result. If you truly can't stomach any of the candidates, than either write in the person you do think would do a good job, or deliberately spoil your ballot and then write a letter to the editor of your paper(s) of choice about why you did so.
posted by brianogilvie at 3:00 PM on October 25, 2010


Go vote. Write yourself in if you want, but it's important to vote.
posted by TooFewShoes at 3:01 PM on October 25, 2010


Well, I don't live in Toronto, but I grew up there, and my family and friends live there, and they're all voting for Smitherman because it's a two-horse race at the moment and he's going to be much less destructive than Ford, in their opinion. I would vote for him if I could, but I can't. If you're ambivalent, you can vote on my behalf.
posted by PercussivePaul at 3:01 PM on October 25, 2010


Don't vote! Don't do it! And let me tell you why.

Voting is an agreement to be bound by the outcome of the election. You are agreeing to let a slimeball or an ineffective leftist or a fringe candidate lead the government to certain failure. And you're saying "okay by me!"

If you vote, you have given up your right to complain by agreeing to live with the consequences. That's what it is all about.

If you don't vote you haven't agreed to abide by the outcome. You have refused to legitimize a broken system. You have withheld the most powerful thing that a voter has: your participation.

Do not vote. Do not spoil your ballot. Do not write in something silly. Simply stay home. And when asked who you voted for, proudly proclaim that you refused to vote and you'll continue to refuse until such time as electoral reform offers you meaningful participation that will achieve result that you can stand to live with.
posted by jph at 3:04 PM on October 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


i believe that not voting in toronto right now is pretty irresponsible.

the discussion on rabble right now might interest you.
posted by crawfo at 3:15 PM on October 25, 2010


Vote.

Not doing so isn't a stand against the broken system. The time to do that is lots of other times but not voting is not that time. A vote is not an endorsement of a broken system; not doing something about it is. Every time you accept something from the system, you are, in a sense, endorsing its existence. It's changing stuff that's important (if it truly is and if you think the system truly doesn't work) and not voting won't do that.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:18 PM on October 25, 2010


Don't forget that Not Voting is actually a form of Voting. Think of it this way: you're standing in the middle of the street and a speeding car is coming. You can step out of the way, but you can also choose to not do anything. Sure, you'll get hit by a car, but the worst is what may happen if you choose to do nothing. Doing nothing is, in fact, still doing 'something'. It's still making a choice (the choice being "to do nothing").

I'm not criticizing you, by the way. I struggle with this too. Sadly, with politics, it often does come down to figuring out which choice is worse and voting for the most likely candidate that can defeat worse, even if that candidate is still bad. I vote for third party candidates in primaries, but in the general election, voting is more about preventing the worst than voting for the best. Sadly.

I'm in the U.S. and I disapprove of both of the choices for governor in my state. I thought about writing the word "NO" as my write-in candidate, but in the end, I decided it was more important to cast my vote for the awful candidate instead of the oh-my-god-terrible candidate.

If I have to choose between a punch to the gut and a kick in the face, I guess I'll take a punch in the gut. I could choose neither, but one of those two options is going to win, so I'd rather vote for the one I hate the least.

I think that too many people make the mistake of thinking they should vote for the candidate they want to win. That strategy only works if the candidate you want can get the most votes. If he or she can't get the most votes, it's faaaaaaaaaaaaaaar more important to use your vote to prevent the worst.
posted by 2oh1 at 3:32 PM on October 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Please vote.

If you don't, you may score some kind of moral victory for opting out of the system....

But you'll still end up with Rob Ford as your mayor.
posted by auto-correct at 3:50 PM on October 25, 2010


Of course, vote. Not because you were a boy scout, or because you have before, but because there is no more valuable right. Not voting does nothing but encourage the bad news.

And, when it is all bad, vote for the lesser of the two evils likely to win. I'd vote for slimy sociopath myself. And then work hard for a better successor.
posted by bearwife at 3:54 PM on October 25, 2010


Vote for a councillor and school trustee, even if you have to leave the Mayor arrow unfinished. Do it!
posted by maudlin at 3:54 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Vote Smitherman. Yes it's unpalatable, but it's your city and Ford has the potential to seriously damage it, if you place any stock in public transit, bicycling, diversity, and any other number of good things.
posted by modernnomad at 3:54 PM on October 25, 2010


Also: if you're going to spoil your ballot, don't eat it.
posted by mazola at 3:56 PM on October 25, 2010


There are 44 councillors. Every one counts. Even if your chosen candidate is polling at 70%, if you think s/he's the best choice, endorse that candidate by voting. Vote the best you can for the people you truly support.

Polls close in an hour. Please stop reading and vote!
posted by maudlin at 3:58 PM on October 25, 2010


Also recall that good schools have a positive impact on neighboring property values, so there may be something in it for you after all.
posted by holterbarbour at 4:18 PM on October 25, 2010


To respectfully disagree with jph and 2oh1, you're already in the system. You pay taxes, you abide by laws, and you live under the protection that your taxes pay for. You are a part of the system, and voting is your way of taking an active part in controlling the direction of that system. One vote doesn't usually change the world, but all of the thousands who don't vote throw away their chance to effect massive changes.

On the contrary, voting allows you complain. I voted for the other guy and all that. Not voting says that you didn't care enough about the choices available to make one, so honestly, you really shouldn't jump into the conversation that other people made an effort to be a part of. Feel free not to vote, but don't complain about the results. Think of it as the complaint tax.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:20 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Will spoiling your ballot feel any better than not voting? Hold your nose and vote Slitherin. Please do something to keep Ford out.

CBC says voting closes at 8pm. Please go.
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:20 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


To respectfully disagree with jph and 2oh1, you're already in the system. You pay taxes, you abide by laws, and you live under the protection that your taxes pay for. You are a part of the system, and voting is your way of taking an active part in controlling the direction of that system. One vote doesn't usually change the world, but all of the thousands who don't vote throw away their chance to effect massive changes.

On the contrary, voting allows you complain. I voted for the other guy and all that. Not voting says that you didn't care enough about the choices available to make one, so honestly, you really shouldn't jump into the conversation that other people made an effort to be a part of. Feel free not to vote, but don't complain about the results. Think of it as the complaint tax.


Agree completely. As others said, not voting IS a vote. But it is a vote for "I don't care, do whatever you want". It is the opposite of "none of the above"; it is more a vote for "either of the above". It's the opposite of a protest, because it is exactly what [run of the mill] politicians prefer: an electorate of confirmed partisans and a few fence sitters that they can scare into voting one way or another by creating wedge issues.

It doesn't matter if you don't like any of the choices- until you volunteer to run for office, you have to accept the candidates who threw their hats in the ring.
posted by gjc at 4:48 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Awww, piss.
posted by bonobothegreat at 6:01 PM on October 25, 2010


I totally disagree with anyone who says it's unconscionable to not vote at all. If you honestly, truly can't stomach any of the candidates on the ballot, then you are in no way obliged to legitimise the electoral process by blindly picking a name. If, however, you're simply finding it more difficult than the usual binary choices presented in elections, then that sucks but really, try harder. Is the least worst candidate really, truly so terrible that you would rather not vote than vote for him/her? I've voted several times now and some of the time my choices have been easy, and on occassion I've struggled pretty hard, but I find it difficult (though by no means impossible) to envisage a slate of candidates so repulsive that I would abstain entirely.
posted by jaffacakerhubarb at 6:06 PM on October 25, 2010


Oh dear. I stand by what I said, but I just read up on this mayoral race— this new guy really sounds like a piece of work.
posted by jaffacakerhubarb at 6:13 PM on October 25, 2010


well that sucked.
posted by modernnomad at 6:27 PM on October 25, 2010


Definitely vote - no one knows how it's all going to shake out until all the ballots are counted, and your vote may be crucial. A few years ago, the Governor of Washington State won with less than 200 votes. And I had a friend who lost his bid for City Council in Madison, WI by 16 votes. Just heartbreaking for him.

So yes - vote. It counts more than you think, especially in the smaller races.
posted by spinifex23 at 6:32 PM on October 25, 2010


well that sucked.

Yup.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 7:15 PM on October 25, 2010


As others said, not voting IS a vote. But it is a vote for "I don't care, do whatever you want"

Agreed. My point was simply that not-choosing is still a choice. A bad choice. A lazy choice. But a choice nonetheless.
posted by 2oh1 at 7:32 PM on October 25, 2010


Try thinking of it this way: the result of politics is measured over long timeframes. It took politicians years to screw up the U.S. economy. You can trace most of it back to a political philosophy of laissez faire capitalism that came to power in the 80s. And the most important turn on our road to ruin was the appointment of an Ayn Rand disciple to be our Federal Reserve Chairman. It seemed so innocuous at the time, but the consequences have certainly been felt 20 years later.

Take your comment on the school trustee. It still affects you if you're at all entangled with the future of Toronto. My city, Chicago, has the worst public school system in the United States. As a result, anyone who has children and can't afford private school moves to the suburbs. How does that affect me? After all, I don't have children. Well, there are the friends I lose touch with when they move 50 miles away so they can send their kids to a decent school. There are the businesses that relocate from the city to the suburbs, following their customers. There are the corporate headquarters that also move - and hire software developers that live in the suburbs rather than in the city. Meaning maybe I'll also have to move just to get the job I want... or suffer a long commute.

It's not like the school system was always awful. It happened as a result of bad management, bad policy, and bad decisions... made over time by the people we Chicagoans elected to office. We made bad choices, as it turns out.

I bet that if you look into it, you may find that there are deep policy differences between the candidates. Vote for the one that will keep Toronto as close to your vision as is practical. Don't worry about personality and virtue. After all, who would you rather have been President of the U.S. from 2000 - 2008? This liberal criminal? Or the warmonger without a rap sheet?
posted by centerweight at 8:24 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


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