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The Jacksons – for Oct. 30, 2008

Well, there you have it. The federal election campaign is history. The election itself is over. The status quo has been carefully maintained and Canadians have returned to their favourite pastime – that is, watching the U. S. election campaign on TV. Which is a lot more entertaining than watching the Canadian election campaign on TV. But then, what isn’t?

“So, did the results go your way here in Transcona?” Andrew Jackson asked his son Brady as the two of them enjoyed a quiet brew at a small establishment near Brady’s rented basement suite.

Brady set his glass down. “Results of what?” he said.

“The election,” said Andrew. “Did you vote for the winner?”

Brady shook his head. “Nope,” was all he said.

“Well, that’s all right,” said Andrew after a moment’s thought. “The important thing is to vote for what you believe in. As long as you believe in the same things I do,” he added with a grin.

“That’s exactly how I feel about it,” said Brady picking up his glass and taking a sip. “Which is why I didn’t vote at all.”

Andrew looked surprised, then a little disappointed. “You didn’t vote?” he said. “I thought we brought you up better than that.”

“Oh, don’t blame yourself,” said Brady. “It’s not your fault. If I could vote for what I believe in, I’d vote. But the parties don’t really give me that option, do they?”

“I don’t know,” said Andrew. “Don’t they?”

“Not really,” said Brady.

There was another pause. “I guess that leads to the obvious question, then, my boy,” said Andrew. “What is it you believe in?”

“Well, for one thing,” said Brady, “I believe we should legalize marijuana.”

Andrew laughed. “Ah, go on,” he said. You’re just trying to push my buttons.”

Brady grinned. “True enough,” he admitted. “Doesn’t work as well as it used to.”

“My buttons are all worn out,” said Andrew. “You’ve been pushing them for 19 years.” He picked up his glass but then put it down without taking a drink. “I can understand not voting,” he said, “but I have to say, I don’t think marijuana is an important enough issue to warrant that as a response.”

“Yeah, you’re right,” said Brady. “It’s not my only reason.”

Andrew looked at his watch. “OK, kid,” he said. “We got about 20 minutes before I have to pick your mother up at the mall, so you have 20 minutes to explain to your old man why you didn’t vote. If your explanation is good enough, I’ll pay for your beer,” he added. “If it’s not, you have to pay for mine.”

“And of course, you get to decide if it’s good enough,” said Brady. “Nice for you.”

“Parents get to make the rules,” said Andrew. “It’s the natural order.”

“Order shmorder,” said Brady. “I’ll explain why I didn’t vote and then we’ll vote on who pays for the beer. How’s that?”

“It’s a deal,” said Andrew. “Get on with it.”

“OK, OK,” said Brady. “Gimme a second.” He lifted his glass and took a long drink, then set the glass down.

“Here’s how I see it,” he said. “Most politicians are old. They don’t have that much time left. And they’ve spent their whole life thinking that the way we live is fine except for a few minor things like taxes and crooked politicians and a little intolerance here and there. So what they all agree on is that basically we should stick to the way we do things now but just try to do it a little better. But young people like me, we look ahead and we see global warming and nationalism and the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer and it looks to us like the political reality is that politicians don’t figure these things are going to affect them much in the next 10 or 20 years or whatever, so they spend all their time worrying about whatever little crisis is happening right now, like the financial collapse on Wall Street, and they don’t get the fact that 50 years from now when the ice cap at the North Pole is gone and Europe doesn’t get summer because the Atlantic current has stopped and most of North America is a desert because it never rains, nobody is going to look back and say, ‘Omigod, we should have put more money into the banks in 2008.’ People are going to be saying ‘Why the heck didn’t we at least try to do something about global warming in 2008?’ But our politicians don’t think that far ahead because they’ll be dead anyway by then. So that’s why I don’t vote. Because I don’t see the point.”

Andrew pulled out his wallet. “I can see you’ve put a lot of thought into it,” he said.

“I have a really smart girlfriend,” said Brady.

“At least you learned one thing from me there,” said Andrew with a smile. He dropped a $20 bill on the table and the two of them got up and headed outside. They stopped on the sidewalk outside and Andrew looked at his son for a moment then put his arms around him and gave him a hug. “You’re a great kid,” he said. “I’m proud of you.”

“Thanks, Dad,” said Brady as he pulled away. “You’re not so bad yourself.”

“I still say next time, you should vote,” said Andrew.

“Who knows?” said Brady. “Next time, maybe I will.”

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