Of Turkeys and Elections

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(See what I did there? Huh? Huh? Ha! I slay me!)

This weekend, we boil up the chicken feet to make soup, we roast the Brussels Sprouts, and we fry the turkey. We whisk the gravy and we bake the pies. We make the charcuterie board and we slice the bread. And we give thanks for the people in our life with whom we share all this, and the lives and experiences that have contributed to the gifts of the year. So, what better time to exercise my civic responsibility to vote than Thanksgiving weekend?

In our little corner of Canada, in our little corner of Ontario, in my neighbourhood, it’s easy. Our voter cards arrived last week (Child even got 2, since he had already voted in the Ontario Election, and his military paperwork had him register for the voter list again. Oops). This weekend, Child is on leave from the Royal Military College, so it’s fortuitous that this weekend is also advanced polling in the federal election. I’m going to go as well because while elections always cause some anxiety in my world, I’m glad for the process. I’ll receive no death threats for the audacity of wanting to cast a vote. I’ll have no 6 hour walk to the polling station, no waiting for hours without shelter. I won’t be turned away and told I can’t vote because of my gender. I’m thankful for the ease with which I am able to vote. And I’m thankful that I get to stand on the shoulders of giants who made it so.

While I’ve watched the shenanigans since the writ of election was issued, I watched the debates and read the (sometime truly horrible) election rhetoric (Come on, candidates! Proofreaders are your friends!). I listened to the idiotic things the candidates have said, and the inspired things they said a few days later. For much of my adult life, I have stood in the polling booth, sighed deeply, and agonized about where my X’s should go. This year is no different, really.

It’s like the multiple choice test strategy – you know that one are two are just wrong. ZOMG WRONG! But there are a few that might be right, maybe, depending on what you heard in the lectures and whether you’ve done your homework dutifully. So what’s a responsible citizen to do? Especially since right and wrong are highly subjective. Oy vey!

For his entire childhood, we always took Child with us when we went to vote. He would ask questions – how do you know who to vote for? How do you know what issues are important? Why do the signs in our riding have different names than the people who want to be Prime Minister? Do you vote for the leader of the party, the party itself, or the local candidate? What if you like a local candidate but not their leader? We taught him to vote with his conscience for the thing that appealed to him (not me or his dad or his friends) most – it might be someone’s stance on an issue, a candidate who you feel has done (or will do) good work for your community, or a leader who will be a global leader as well. In my house, Mike always votes for a party, no matter who’s running locally or who the leader is. I’m more variable. Sometimes it’s for the local candidate, sometimes it’s for the leader. Sometimes, on my least favourite elections, it’s strategic voting *against* the party/leader I want to lose, instead of for the person I actually like best. That’s where I find myself this round. I’ll vote for the local candidate I like, but in a different voting structure, I’d vote for the leader of a different party.

I’m always disappointed that my local riding only gets, like, 33% voter turnout, and the person who wins, takes it with 56% of the vote. Well done, 18% of Cambridge, you got the “majority”. I’m not a math person, but good granny, that shouldn’t add up. Apathy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be – make a different choice, friends. So regardless of my options and my choice (and the fact that Mike’s vote and mine almost always cancel each other out), I make sure that I vote, and I encourage all y’all to do the same.

Happy thanksgiving, friends.

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