Why we Vote

Why do we vote? Seventy percent of older Canadians vote regularly but why? We believe in the democratic process and support our parliamentary institutions. And exercise our franchise as part of our civic duty, but obviously that’s not all.

What makes us choose one Party over another, one Leader over another, one candidate over the next? You can imagine the multitudes of party operatives trying to divine THE answer.

Do we let them buy our votes with our own money? Beggar our neighbour to line our own pockets? Blind with the power of our vote, do we just want to throw the bums out? Just to show that we can?

That doesn’t seem to be how we see ourselves. In the recent poll, CARP members didn’t think it would be a good thing for public policy to favour older Canadians simply because we vote the most. And that has been a consistent theme in our polling.

Addressing health care needs, improving home care and support for caregivers helps everyone – since just about everyone will confront these challenges if not for themselves then for their loved ones.

Most of our members say they are having an adequate retirement but want support for those less well off. And although already retired, they back policies that will help future generations save for their own retirement. They defend the long form census [who knew?] and hate prorogation.

Our members actually like the “vision thing” and policies that serve the greater good.

Members also recoil from the Tea Party and its policies in the US and presumably would reject even a pale imitation here.

So why is it that politicians pick on issues that appeal to our fears and the most basic instincts? When they offer to cut taxes we know it has to come from somewhere.

Every time we vote, we get the chance to make clear, informed choices about what kind of future we want for ourselves and our children – and government’s role in getting us there. There are priorities and trade-offs. But most of all, an election campaign is the time for an adult conversation not schoolyard taunts.

As the 2011 provincial election season gets underway across the country, CARP will try cut through the spin, invite the parties to pitch their platforms directly to our members; the national office and many chapters will hold debates and all candidates’ meetings and generally show them why we vote.