My purpose in writing this piece is not to critique the political system nor its candidates, but rather to encourage citizens to open their eyes and do their research when major events like these take place. With the relatively recent installment of Justin Trudeau, I’ve seen many posts via social media both for and against the liberal party. Opinions are essential to any society; but it’s one thing to cast your vote as an informed citizen and another to go with whatever your friends or family support.
Two years ago I turned eighteen. I remember being extremely excited to transition into “adulthood,” and the thing I looked forward to the most was having the right to vote. Being legally able to drink was hardly significant, because as a citizen, I’d long looked forward to the day that I’d be able to have a voice in important issues. It is by this same token that I confess that I take no particular interest in politics. Being that politics are such a crucial part of our lives, I’ve never ignored them, but I’ve also never gone out of my way to research things such as candidacy, the different parties, or economy. This together with my excitement at the prospect of being allowed to vote made for a very strange situation. How could I vote if I was politically illiterate? My whole life I’d just supported the party my parents associated themselves with, not taking much time to look really into anything else. If you’d asked me what Harper had done for Canada at the ripe age of eighteen, I wouldn’t have been able to give you an answer.
During the elections last year, I remember seeing an array of articles posted by friends and family regarding different parties and scandals. I remember nodding my head now and then, thinking “this is logical.” A few articles down, I’d see something contradicting the previous report, and again, it seemed to make sense. It was at this point when I realized I was going into the election entirely uneducated, and I was overwhelmed with a feeling of terror. My voice as a citizen is influential, so how could I possibly expect to cast a vote when I knew next to nothing about the big issues? Should I even be voting at all?
I made a conscious effort over the next few weeks to rigorously research each party and their candidate. It was as if a switch had turned in my mind. I stopped looking to my friends’ tweets to find out who I liked better, because most of the time, they were just as clueless as I was. We all just seemed to go with the flow, flocking towards the popular choice without knowing anything at all. The election suddenly became more than a rite of passage; it was paramount for me to know who I was standing behind.
While social media can serve as an excellent tool for promoting your opinions, it is critical that we, as the next generation, know just who we are putting into power. While one vote alone makes little difference, many voices can change the future of a country. If everyone just went with the popular choice, we may as well be putting on blindfolds and checking off a random candidate. By being well-rounded in knowledge, we make ourselves capable of having a substantial impact on our society, one that is not based on which candidate says the nicest words or makes the biggest promises. Whether you identify as conservative, liberal, or anything else, make sure that it’s something you can stand behind without a shadow of a doubt. We have the potential to shape our country, so let’s make sure we do it with confidence!