It had all led up to this. For fourth-year Political Science student James Tomlinson, election day was the highlight of his university career. A chance to prove his Machiavellian prowess and demonstrate his vast knowledge of the contemporary political climate, Tomlinson had been anticipating this opportunity for the entire semester.
He woke up feeling ready. As he entered the Baldwin Street polling station, his mind was calm, focused on the task at hand. He confidently strode toward registration and declared his information with authority. A quick glance around the gymnasium at the other voters reassured an often–anxious Tomlinson that he was undoubtedly the most qualified and informed person there. At last, the woman in front of him had finished her ballot. “Typical female voter, aged 18 to 24,” he snidely remarked to no one in particular.
Then came the moment he’d been waiting for. It was his turn to partake in the democratic process, to have his voice heard for once in his life. He sprinted toward the divider that held the precious pencil, his weapon against autocracy, with which he would cast his vote.
However, upon glancing down at the ballot, a strange sensation began bubbling inside of him. He had not anticipated such a plethora of choices. So many blank, untainted circles that could potentially be marked in. Feeling overwhelmed, James panicked, immediately placing a large X in the first circle he saw.
Struck with horror at his premature decision, Tomlinson took a minute to breathe and think about his next move. He decided against his first impulse, scratched out his original X, and placed one in the second box.
Satisfied with his reconsideration, he was about to pack up and call it a day when he glanced down and noticed there were four other untouched boxes. Sweat began to pour down his brow, he had been behind the divider for almost five minutes now and had not even considered the other four candidates.
He attempted to channel his teachings from POL320 to help him reach a final decision, frantically asking himself, “Which candidate best embodies Rousseau’s noble savage? Does this mean that said candidate could therefore not live by Kant’s categorical imperative? Does this candidate have a proper understanding of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right? Do I have a proper understanding of Hegel? What have I even learned at this UofT?”
After scribbling down notes under the next four candidates for what seemed like an hour, he had finally finished exercising his democratic right to vote. He proudly exited the divided desk station clenching a ballot that resembled a final exam cheat sheet. As he was just about to hand in his ballot, a final thought entered his already perplexed mind: “I’ve forgotten about Plato’s Republic as taught in POL200!” This revelation proved to be far too much for James, as he began to spin from the realization that despite his $40,000 education in political theory, he could never truly grasp Plato’s Forms, rendering him a babbling, unvirtuous idiot.
Biting back tears, James tossed his crumpled ballot to the floor, running out of the public school and off into the night.