Thanks to the candidates

I grew up believing that all politicians were egotistical, thieving liars. Not because my parents taught me so, but because that was a common societal perception. I’m not sure when I recognized that this was not actually true, I only know that once I did, I felt compelled to defend them, much like kids who get picked on in the schoolyard.

Yes, some politicians are egotistical, thieving liars. But so are some doctors, firefighters, teachers and just about any other profession out there. To think that all politicians fit this negative stereotype would be completely inaccurate.

Yet, according to the website Dictionary.com, the second meaning of the word politician is this:  “A seeker or holder of public office, who is more concerned about winning favour or retaining power than about maintaining principles.”

Wow. It’s no wonder such a small percentage of people choose to pursue a career as a public servant.

Over the years I’ve met many politicians, from the local level to the national, and almost all of them have been well-intentioned, hard workers who either had developed a thick skin, or were in the process of doing so.

“You can’t take things personally,” said one of them. “And if you don’t learn that early on, it’ll eat you alive.”

When it comes to representing the people, politicians are inherently at a huge disadvantage popularity-wise because there’s no way they’ll be able to please everyone, and some of the people they’re unable to please will lash out aggressively.

Due to voter apathy, politicians in our country continue to be elected by the minority of people. This means that even though they’re representing all of us, it’s commonly expressed that perhaps they wouldn’t be if the majority had ventured out to vote. This is hardly the fault of those elected, but it adds to the resentment they are exposed to.

And the public is fickle. When the global economy is in a crisis, for example, it’s easy to blame the elected officials – even the ones at a local level.

The other thing impressed upon me growing up was to never talk about religion or politics in polite company. I understood the logic to that the first time I ignored such advice, and experienced a friendly debate progress to a heated argument  with someone I barely knew.

But sharing ideas and beliefs about two of the most influential factors on our human existence is important and should not be avoided. I think it should just be conveyed with more respect.

It’s okay for us to have different opinions and to not agree on everything under the sun. What’s not okay is shoving our beliefs down another person’s throat and casting judgment where it doesn’t belong.

Tolerance and communication are paramount to getting things done in this world, and I am grateful there are people willing to put themselves out there on our behalf, particularly if they continue to listen to those they represent.

There’s obviously many good reasons that 99.9% of us would never run for public office, but imagine our world without them.

With our municipal elections now over, I thank all the candidates who put themselves out there for a job so few of us would ever want. I think the majority of the people would agree: “Better you than me.”

To watch my third and last parody video playing a mayoral candidate who “stands for stuff”, please visit LoriWelbourne.com

Why bother voting?

The municipal elections are only a week away and I’ve been telling people in my community of West Kelowna that I’m running for mayor. A surprising number of them have believed me.

“I’m not really running,” I said to a lady I know when she started telling me her concerns. “There are two mayoral candidates, but I’m not one of them.”

“Why did you say you were then?” she asked, confused. In her hand she held my flyer that read, “Lori Welbourne for Mayor – she stands for stuff.”

“I’m making a lighthearted video trying to encourage people to vote and I present myself as a clueless candidate,” I explained. Then I asked her if she was going to vote.

“No,” she responded. “I don’t know enough about who’s running.” That was obvious.

I was surprised this incredibly smart, articulate businesswoman – who had genuine concerns about the community she grew up in – hadn’t bothered to educate herself on the candidates, and didn’t even plan to vote. If her apathy was any indication, it was no wonder our voter turnout is consistently low.

In this information age, getting a sense of who the candidates are has never been easier. Most of them have their own websites, show up at public forums, do substantial advertising, engage on social media and make themselves readily available for questions and discussions. Many of them still knock on doors in an effort to connect with voters face to face.

“Some people tell me they only vote federally and don’t bother with us grass-root politicians,” one candidate confided. “I try to explain that they’re more likely to be heard at the local government level, which in turn affects how the larger governments act. Sometimes they change their mind when they realize they do have a voice.”

We are so fortunate to be living in a democratic society where we have the right to vote, a right millions of people in this world would give anything to have. Yet, most of us in this society can’t be bothered.

Would we care more if we were reminded of our brave veterans who fought to defend our democracy? I like to think so.

“My vote won’t make a difference,” a young man told me the other day. A common belief for sure, but it’s not true. There’s historical evidence of elections that have been won or lost based on a single vote. They all count.

The will of the majority is what is intended to govern us. Unfortunately, it’s the will of the minority that actually does when only the typical third of the population exercise their right to vote.

Perhaps the fear of me running for mayor on the ridiculous platform of “I stand for stuff,” will influence a few extra people out to the polls where I live – if only in an effort to keep me out of office.

Election day is November 19, 2011. Know your candidates and vote for whoever best represents what you want for your community.

To watch my campaign parody please visit LoriWelbourne.com