In the runup to today’s election (and fine, okay, that one you USians are having next year that I’m already tired of hearing about), I’ve seen a lot of you write eloquently about why you refuse to vote, and I get it: voting is flawed. Representative democracy is too. If you’re looking for a complete overhaul of the way that we construct our society or run our economy, this election is unlikely to bring you the change you need.
You say that by not voting, you’re refusing to prop up a system that bolsters unequal relations. One that enshrines the leader-follower model in the institutions that run our lives.
What do you think will happen if you don’t vote? Do you think that a low voter turnout will cause any change? Nonvoters are more likely to be progressive than voters. By not voting, you give the establishment a gift: with one less potentially opposing vote to worry about, they have one less supporting one to work for.
There isn’t a candidate who wholeheartedly supports your views? Hold your nose. Pick the lesser evil. Vote anyway.
You don’t have to agree with representative democracy to vote. You don’t even have to agree that nation-states should exist at all.
All you have to accept is this: we live in a representative democracy. We have a limited ability to affect what type of government we have. The small changes that government will make affects all of our lives. So vote.
Pick the lesser evil. Pick the person you can’t stand just a little bit less than the other. For a few minutes, one day every five years, stand in a box and mark a paper.
It won’t change the world. We’ll still be stuck in the same system tomorrow- but we will be if you don’t vote, too. But if you vote, there’s a chance that in the next five years, someone will make a decision that helps rather than harms. So vote anyway.
I don’t care if you disagree with voting. I’m not in love with it myself. But I do it. Because a government comprised of the least-worsts will make a far more liveable society, for all of us, than one comprised of the worsts.
If you stay home and refuse to participate? You’ve put your ideological purity ahead of practical change. You’ve privileged your ideals over doing the dirty, everyday work of improving society from every angle you can, every time you can. When you stayed home, you didn’t do a damn thing to change anything. And any time you privilege ideology over practicality, someone will suffer.
Do you want to repeal the 8th amendment? Vote today. Do you want to get the Church out of our schools and hospitals? Vote. Do you want refugees to be given the welcome they deserve on our shores? Vote. Do you want businesses to pay their taxes? A health service worth its name? Irish Water abolished? A living wage? Access to housing? Respect for people with disabilities? A fair economy? Vote.
If you’d rather sit at home writing about how you’re so above authoritarian systems of government and you refuse to participate in the electoral process because of it? Understand that right now you’re stuck in this system whether you like it or not. Frankly: get your head out of your ass. Get out. And vote anyway.
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