Twitter is awash with people getting quite ranty about voting. I defintely think it’s important to vote but not always for the reasons that get rammed down our throats.
“People died for our vote”
Yes, they did. And hurrah for that. But that was about 100 years ago and while we’re very grateful ‘n all, don’t vote because someone died for it. People have died for all sorts of stuff over the years. Vote because you care about what’s happening to your world now and in the future.
“If you don’t want [insert rabid party du jour] to win, then vote. Their supporters will”
Yes, maybe, though depending where you live that “support” may be more ephemeral than you think. Voting to stop extremists IS a good reason to vote, but only if you are confident that you’re not diluting the vote of the other parties. Instead, why not vote because you want to see a party win. If enough people do that, the extremist parties will be blown out of the water anyway.
“Put up or shut up”
This is certainly a justification I cite – but then I see a lot more people moaning about stuff than most of you do! It’s true that if you don’t vote then you really don’t have a leg to stand on whe it comes to complaining, but don’t vote so you can moan later, vote because you want things to get better.
And then come the wave of objections
“My vote doesn’t matter”
The age-old challenge of democracy. Obviously if everyone thought that then the system would collapse. If votes didn’t matter, there wouldn’t be political parties and policies would be set by a centralised bureaucracy. See: China. We happen to live in one of the most politically competitive parts of London – remember Labour held the Hampstead & Kilburn seat by just 42 votes over the Conservatives in the General Election, and lost out on a council seat in West Hampstead to the Lib Dems by just 77 votes. So here, even if nowhere else, your vote really does make a difference, and even more so when turnout is low. If you’re reading this from a safe seat, remember that it’s only “safe” because people go and vote. If you want to turn a safe seat into a marginal one, you have to be part of making that happen. Don’t forget that funding, media exposure and parties’ own resources move based on votes.
“All the parties are the same”
No, no they’re not. Yes, at the leadership level it can seem as if a bunch of middle-aged and well educated white guys (and occasionally women) are running the show. Yes, it can seem as if all the parties are very “establishment”, but that doesn’t mean that they have the same beliefs, especially on issues such as welfare, healthcare, education – things that affect all of us at some point, and affect how the places you live and society around us evolve. Vote because you have some vision and ambition for yourself and the people around you and there’ll be a party that mirrors that better than the others.
“None of the parties reflect my views”
No shit Sherlock. Aside from the political groupies who bristle at the notion that anything their party does could ever be misguided, how many of us fully subscribe to every single policy that any party develops? I certainly don’t. Don’t abandon the idea of voting because no-one is offering perfection. Get real. Vote for the party that comes closest to your ideals or that will be best for you and the people you care about. If you feel that strongly about it, stand for election yourself.
“Russell Brand said there’s no point voting”
Not voting isn’t the same as voting FOR Russell Brand. He’s not going to do anything about the big issues of our time such as carbon emissions, economic stability, or negotiating with the European Union. Love is all you need – along with weekly rubbish collections, right? ‘Cos Russ certainly isn’t going to solve the problem of fly tipping on West End Lane however entertainingly articulate he may be. So, sure, knock yourself out. Sit at home and pretend you’re an anarchist. You’re welcome back into the real world at any time – and the people who ARE elected will generally still try and help you out if you need it; they’re good like that. And if they don’t – guess who’s got the power to get rid of them?
If you’ve not voted yet, and aren’t sure who to vote for, then why not look at our Election Special pages to help you make your mind up. And if you’re still not sure:
I highly recommend going to vote, if only because you might see a dog in a pram on the way http://t.co/b6Tb8Ke3NY
— Thom Hoffman (@thomhoffman) May 22, 2014