Will anybody care?
Unless it's the Green Party, apparently not.
HOWEVER when last week, I impulsively sent an email invitation to local election candidates, I foolishly assumed that there were only four eligible candidates in my riding, representing the following parties: Conservative, Liberal, Green and NDP.
In doing so, I excluded the Independent and Progressive Canadian Party candidates and to both of them, Tim Hickey and Andrew Skinner respectively, I extend my sincere apologies.
I can only hope that they might (might still?) have accepted my challenge - to visit me in my home and convince me to vote in their favour. In the meantime, I attended last night's local election debate and listened as both men delivered impassioned speeches about their hopes for the future of this country. Well done, gentlemen.
Before I offer up my own impressions of the debate, (heckling and booing and hissing, oh my!) I'll just quickly recap, shall I?
Wednesday, last week: Disheartened by yet another election and disillusioned by the parties I might normally vote for, I emailed local election candidates, asking them to sit awhile with me, here in my home, to help rekindle my faith in our political system and to win my vote.
Thursday: Heard nothing. Loaded link "How to Win My Vote" to Twitter and Facebook and waited, checking my email almost hourly, waiting, hoping, indeed expecting a reply. Honestly, I expected to be gently let down, knowing how jam-packed an election schedule can be. I thought perhaps I'd receive a polite "thank-you-but-I-am-far-too-busy-though-I'd-love-to-touch-base-here's-some-literature."
But I received nothing and so forwarded the letter onto my local paper, the Belleville Intelligencer.
Friday: Nope. Nothing.
But my blog traffic had gone crazy, especially after friends tweeted Margaret Atwood and she sent my link out into cyberspace. Spent most of Friday clicking the "Stats" button on my blog and feeling awed at the power and scope of social media.
Saturday: "Open Letter to Election 2011 Candidates" appeared in the Intelligencer. Shortly after 8:00 a.m., Pat Larkin, the Green Party representative for this riding, sent along a lengthy, warm and informative email. I was delighted to have been both heard AND answered. Finally.
Sunday: Day of rest and "Stats" clicking. Blogged about how life USUALLY goes around here, when Mama's knickers aren't in a knot about being ignored, feeling unheard and wondering whether to even bother getting the "good" cream for coffee. If I buy it, will they come?
Monday: Still, one lone reply sits in my inbox and my spirits sink. Really? Really??
Two of my husband's co-workers called - they read the letter and thought it great, had I heard anything back? "Anything?" theme repeats on Facebook, Twitter, via email, the comment section of the newspaper and phone calls from friends and neighbours.
My bummed answer: Of the four, only one. Lovely. yes. I suppose it IS to be expected, but shouldn't we expect MORE? Don't I - don't we - deserve, at the very least, a simple reply?
Tweeted to the two candidates who use Twitter - waited for replies until the sitter arrived and left to attend the local election debate. Within minutes, I was shaking hands with candidates greeting folks at the door. But I didn't even have a chance to give my name before two of the four let their gazes drift past me, above me, beyond me and just like that, I was dismissed.
As for the debate itself, I was fascinated by the whole thing. Too much mudslinging for my liking: don't tell me what the "other guy" isn't doing, tell me what YOU will. I was surprised and embarrassed by the heckling and the hissing, joined in with a lot of the applause and scribbled madly in my notepad, trying to capture it all.
Of the perhaps 200 people in attendance, only 20 or so were under the age of 30. Another 20 made up the middle passage of 30 to 50 and the rest of seats were a sea of white and gray. That made me sad - where are the voices of my generation, upon whose future this election also rides? Why do we, the children and grandchildren of the baby-boomers, continue to let them make choices on our behalf? Haven't they done enough?
But I digress...
Today: About five minutes into the writing of this post, I received a call from Giselle, on behalf of Peter Tinsley, Liberal candidate. Mr. Tinsley had read the letter in the paper and had instructed her to track me down - he is anxious to speak with me. When I gently offered that my number (and address) had been made available in my initial email, she seemed confused. What letter?
Perhaps Mr. Tinsley never received my email. I am willing to accept that possibility, just as I will accept his promised phone call. His aide assures me that, at some point today, he will call.
We shall see.
Whether he does or not, I will cast my vote on May 2nd - and will tick the box beside the name of the man whom I believe offers something to strive for and values I can live with - both today and for tomorrow.
But for today, I think this:
The reason that so many of my fellow Canadians do not vote is because they feel unheard and unnoticed. Because they feel that their one measley vote won't make a difference anyhow, so why bother?
I get it. This week, for possibly the first time, I get why so many will not be urged out of their apathy by pushy, though well-meaning friends like me ("It's not just your privilege to vote, it's your responsibility!") - because they feel let down and fed up and unheard.
As though they've opened their door to the leaders of tomorrow, only to be greeted by stony silence and a gaze that won't quite meet their own.
Democracy. Ain't it grand?
*** Tuesday, 9:13 pm: Have just received a phone call from the NDP rep here. He apparently did not receive my initial email - is there a Bermuda Triangle for political emails AND socks in the dryer? - but is eager to meet with me. And so, we will. Monday morning. I supply coffee, he brings his best game. I look forward to it! Gawd, I love the internet! ****
*** Wednesday morning: I've been out all morning, but have just returned to several phone messages.
I have now been contacted by the "big four" candidates. Only one of whom received my initial email, another who only received the second and the last two, the big two, have been busily tracking me down as it appears as though they've received neither the first NOR the second email. All of them read the letter in the paper, but it did not include my contact information (me thinking they'd received it already).
Naturally, I have checked and re-checked the addresses I found online - presumably updated ones. If, for whatever reason, my letter was not forwarded to the candidates, I will feel sheepish and a bit badly that I've been so ticked at being ignored.
I am, however, DELIGHTED to have finally heard from them and look forward to the coming days! ***