As politicos from all over campus gathered in the Den's Red Room to watch election returns from the United States on Tuesday, as the broader community became engrossed in the circus across the border like watching a repeat car accident in slow motion, and as the venerable Canadian Broadcasting Corporation gave around the clock coverage to Bush and Kerry, we lost a little something of ourselves. Calgarians ill-affordedly gave to the American election what precious little election attention we had remaining after a record election year at home.
The U.S. election should be just another event on Fox or CNN, but it has become more than just one election in succession for Canadians. We obsess with what American electors do, how they do it, and how we measure up. Yet our own provincial election, for leaders of a geography much larger than any state, draws little more than resigned apathy.
Elections have unfortunately become run of the mill affairs that no longer merit special attention. Less than 20 per cent turnout for the municipal election, a representative elected with 23 votes here on campus, and a somber provincial election conspire to make us the least election-conscious we've been in years. Indeed, the regularity of elections seems to have atrophied our electoral attention span rather than reinforce it.
We could just be "all electioned out" at the U of C due to the perfect storm of elections this year. We've had federal, SU and civic elections, and soon we will likely re-elect Premier Ralph Klein for one last term. However, that does not explain why we care so much about democracy south of the border, and so little about our own.
While state governors battle for every last vote and eyeball, our eyeballs included, we barely take notice of those who futilely try to oust whoever is in power over here. Never mind that the security and stability of another Conservative government is under attack by at least three major opposition parties, or that the leader of the governing party will be the most empowered Premier since the province embarked on deficit spending decades ago, many of us simply can't be bothered to consciously decide our political futures.
If we are to retain our democratic choices, we must make the most of our electoral duties during both good times and bad. Whether we choose to support none, some, or all of the candidates, or if we choose not to vote at all, we must not surrender our duty to inform the electoral system.