Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Why you should vote.

It will be interesting to watch the stats for this post - my guess is I'll not get many visitors. Even the thought of an election sends many people to sleep.

Those who stay awake might say:
  • what is point of the voting for people who take no notice of me after the election?
  • politicians spend my money on duck houses and close school libraries.
  • politicians tell lies.
  • no one has taken the trouble to knock on my door so why should I put myself out for them?
I get all that. I can see that putting your cross on a piece of paper may feel like a waste of time and effort when you've many pressing things to do. And when nothing terrible happens if you stay at home and eat cake.

But if you've decided that elections are a waste of time - what would you replace them with? Government by some sort of cadre that co-opts new members when any participant pops his or her clogs? I've visited countries like that - and yes, people eat and sleep and laugh and go about their businesses just as you and I do. But they cannot stop on street corners and talk about the government, blaming those in power for everything from the price of bread to a war. There are places where they can be strung up by the short and curlies for that (metaphorically, you understand).

Or would you rather have a free-for-all that abandons any sort of government in the belief that we can sort things out for ourselves (are you going to collect the rubbish from your street, in the spirit of neighbourliness?)? 

Our democracy is hugely flawed - I know that. But every system is flawed; and every system has its pockets of corruption and politicians who tell lies.

Yet it's the system we've got - and only functions because enough people engage with it. Which, of course, means that governments - national, local, or European - can only represent a majority if enough people make the effort to vote. So do you want to be have your say, feeble though it may be - or join the unthinkers and let it all happen without you?

And for the women - our great-grandmothers chained themselves to railings so we could vote. Not so we could sit on our bottoms stirring our cappuccinos and complaining. Voting is a privilege. We should treasure it.

12 comments:

  1. Great post, Jo. I totally agree, democracy/voting is a gift and a privilege. In Australia we have compulsory voting so everyone has to vote. I have worked as a polling officer a few times, and it is interesting to watch the body language. Most people are cheerful and once there I'm sure they make the best choice they can. But there are always a few who roll their eyes as they take the voting paper, and appear to wish they were anywhere but at the polling place. Later when we do the first count, there are a small number of informal voters who choose to write impertinent or obscene things on their vote - amazing!

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    1. I suspect there would be huge resistance to compulsory voting in the UK - and I can see both sides. It would make people think - or would it? Better to vote thoughtfully than not at all? But we Brits hate being told what to do!!

      I confess to spoiling my ballot paper when we had the election for police commissioners - I thought it was such a waste of money, and shouldn't be a political appointment. So I used my voting opportunity to say that, rather than sit at home and not vote.

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  2. HERE, HERE! Excellent post, Jo! I've been to vote and I hope everyone reading this has also been. I would like to see the faces of those apathetic non-voters if they were told they were no longer allowed to vote. I find it so frustrating that I'm sure my blood pressure is rising just typing this. I shall now return to Twitter and keep nagging.

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    1. Good for you, Ros - I've been busy, so haven't nagged as much as I'd have liked.

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  3. Carolyn Caldwell22 May 2014 at 04:38

    Did you hear the 'Why Vote?' programme on Radio 4 on Tuesday morning? Brilliant discussion led by Harvard professor Michael Sandel, recorded at London School of Economics. Here's the link...
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b043wx2s

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    1. Missed it, so thanks for the link.

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  4. I would copy and paste your post across buses up and down the country. Beautiful.

    Politics is messy and complicated. It's full of compromises and decisions that sometimes might go against out beliefs. But politics is necessary and so is voting. I'm with you. I have just cast my vote. I have always voted since I came to live in the UK. To me it's part of the adapation/integration process. Get to know the land in which you now live, get to know their people and their political inclinations. Scan around and alight on a party that somehow meets most of your political beliefs. It's not easy, but voting for that party iis not the same as being a member of that party.

    Thanks for your sanity.

    Greetings from London.

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    1. Oh yes, politics messy and complicated - but it's essential. Thanks so much for your support.

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  5. A brilliant post, Jo. So true and so right. I agree with every word. Just a shame I cannot vote here as I'm not a citizen. I can only vote in local elections for councils.

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    1. You RT'd me, Val - so you did your bit!!

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  6. Very true, it's essential to vote. And the success of a certain anti-EU party in the UK European elections had a lot to do with how they were given a huge amount of publicity and media coverage compared to say the Green party.

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  7. I agree with all that you say but I'm not very good at voting. I rarely vote because I would have to do lots of research into who I was voting for and I cant interest myself in it enough because no matter what party they are they all seem to tell lies. I'm reading as much as I can about the referendom we will have soon in Scotland and I still do not have a clue what way my vote will go although I will vote. I just don't believe anything the parties say. Although I do agree with you that the alternative would be worse.

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