Outdigenous

Another election has come and gone, and I think I speak for everyone when I say, “Yes, but what about the next episode of Riverdale?”

Being apolitical is typically viewed as an indicator of privilege. After all, when politics works in your favour, what is there to worry about? Many of us likely have family and friends who share this viewpoint, and when an election comes around, endless energy is spent trying to convert them and help them see the light: their vote matters, and as Canadian citizens, they have an obligation to vote.

Every time an election rears its head, my social media feeds are inundated with comments about voting, often using threats and shame as a tactic. Stories like ‘If you don’t vote, you’re a terrible person!’ and ‘If you don’t vote, unfriend me!’ clutter up my normally progressive, intersectional, fairly woke circle of friends like an angry, ignorant virus.

Elections get underneath all the performative wokeness, all the bell hooks binge-reading sessions and all the pseudo-understanding of Otherness in Canada.

In my opinion, there is no shame in not voting. If you choose not to vote because you don’t want to participate in a system that actively worked to destroy your entire culture, sweet.

If you choose not to vote because you don’t know what’s going on and frankly don’t care, congrats on identifying your own ignorance and not just blindly filling in a circle while hoping for the best!

If you are someone without a home address or identifying documents, or whose voice is being actively suppressed, or your employers threaten you for taking time off and you can’t afford to risk it, none of this is your fault, and it’s not up to you to find a better solution.

Voting is a social norm, and like all social norms, going against it is scary and hard. It takes courage. We can’t know all the reasons people don’t vote, and people who don’t vote don’t owe anyone an explanation.

I voted in the last election. My vote is motivated by the (perhaps misplaced) belief that this country can be saved and that democracy can work. But with every vote I cast, I become more and more convinced: my vote is motivated by fear, not by courage.

Sometimes I think of our country and its government as the Universe: vast, expansive, confusing, and nobody is paying enough attention to me. My favourite question about the Universe is also my favourite question about the Canadian government: what’s outside of it, and what lies beyond?

Vote, or don’t. Watch Riverdale, or don’t. But let’s set aside the shame and the threats and show some respect for those with the courage to do battle. I’m not one of them yet, but someday I hope I am. Someday I hope to proudly say, “I didn’t vote, and you don’t have to either. Cole Sprouse forever.”

Frances Koncan is a writer, director, and producer of mixed Anishinaabe and Slovene descent. A proud graduate of CUNY Brooklyn College’s MFA Playwriting Program and a frequent supporter of the Oxford Comma,  she also still sometimes uses two spaces after periods as if it’s 1988 and she’s using a typewriter.

Published in Volume 73, Number 9 of The Uniter (November 8, 2018)

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