Seniors: Choose wisely and make a difference

  • Apr. 11, 2019 3:32 p.m.

Albertans are heading to the polls on Tuesday.

When it comes to exercising their vote, older adults, in particular, those belonging to the age group 65 to 74 years, have been the most reliable segment of the electorate, and they can be proud of that fact.

Even when the overall voter turnout was 68 per cent in the last federal election, the percentage of seniors who came out to vote was about 79 per cent. But, does our responsibility end with our decision to vote?

In fact, electing the wrong person to power is worse than not voting at all.

Once we decide to vote, the next step is deciding which political party to vote for. We have no dearth of options when it comes to political parties competing this year.

Among all the parties participating in the provincial elections, the main contest appears to be between the United Conservatives Party, the Alberta Party and the New Democratic Party.

How do you decide which party to vote for?

I asked a few people about their voting choices and their answers inspired me to write this column.

Some people vote for the same party every time and nothing would ever change that. Though their political loyalty is commendable, I disagree with the rationale behind their choice.

Voting for the same party in these times of changing economy and changing ideologies is not as wise as consulting the same doctor every time.

Some others vote for a particular candidate, because he or she is charismatic, and reputed to be nice and approachable.

These are clearly desirable characteristics in a person; however, they are not good enough reasons for electing someone to power. Though there is some room for individual opinion within a party, a politician can ultimately be only as good as his/her party platform.

Yet another reason I heard was that a particular candidate is a known public figure, and has been active in politics for some time, and probably knows what he or she is doing, akin to saying that a known devil is better than an unknown one.

This is also a flawed method of decision-making, since by sticking with the known, one is entirely blocking out fresh ideas and new possibilities.

An informed decision is the best decision. Older adults should consider what stance the different political parties are taking on issues relevant to them, such as health care, old age security and pensions, long-term care, medication costs, subsidized housing options, dementia strategy and so on.

Weigh the pros and cons of each party’s proposals and support the party that offers comparatively more realistic, practical solutions to the issues confronting older adults. This way, you have a greater chance of making an informed decision.

Newspapers and magazines, the television and radio, and election forums, are all sources of information that will help you make an informed decision. Do your own research and do not be swayed by the opinions of others.

A word of caution seems appropriate for this time: Do not fall for the rhetoric of the politicians. If what they promise sounds too good to be true, that is what it is most likely to be. Use your life experience and wisdom to separate the reality from the rhetoric.

Once you have decided which party you want to support, the rest is easy. Just show up at your polling station on Tuesday, or if you are not available that day, you can cast your ballot at one of the advance polling stations.

For more information on any topic related to Alberta elections, go to https://www.elections.ab.ca/ or call the voter information centre toll free at 1-877-422-8683.

Get ready to participate in the elections and make a mark that matters.

Padmaja Genesh, who holds a bachelor degree in medicine and surgery as well as a bachelor degree in gerontology, has spent several years teaching and working with health-care agencies. A past resident of Red Deer, and a past board member of Red Deer Golden Circle, she is now a learning specialist at the Alzheimer Society of Calgary. Please send your comments to padmajaganeshy@yahoo.ca

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