This post is devoted to one of the oddest arguments I’ve ever heard for deciding not to vote.
Personally, I’m voting. I’m looking forward to taking the children to the polling station on Thursday and demonstrating the greatness of living in a democracy. Respecting the right to place that cross in the box of my choice, respecting the fight of those that lost their lives in the fight for me to vote. In short, I am strongly pro-voting. If unsure, I think it’s better to go and spoil the paper than not vote at all.
Not everyone agrees of course and I’m interested by the arguments used by those who don’t vote. I was listening to a programme on the radio where pro-voters were trying to convince non-voters to vote. Many of the usual reasons were mentioned for not voting: not believing one vote can make a difference, not trusting the parties, deciding that they are all basically the same, forgetting due to a busy day or just plain old not bothering.
And then, one student who said she wouldn’t be voting because she didn’t know who to vote for, answered that she felt it was better not to vote than to spoil your paper, because that was a bit mean after all the hard work the politicians have put into their campaign.
I stopped and stared at the radio. WHAT?!?!?! Did I really just hear that? An abstention to preserve the feelings of the poor politicians. Amazing. Imagine if it worked both ways. A party without any policies because each one has winners and losers, and they don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Do Cameron and Osbourne cry themselves to sleep each night over the plight of those made homeless due to changes in housing benefits, or those finding extra cash for the bedroom tax, queuing up at food banks? As we know, Clegg is very sorry about raising the tuition fees – but it didn’t stop him at the time, or Labour from introducing them in the first place.
If a student spending three years in an environment of study and debate has lost their need to rebel, stand up and be heard, or manage an opinion of some sort, then I weep for the future of our democracy. There’s no hope of them fitting it in when they have to juggle a career, rent/mortgage and perhaps a family. Student Unions seem to have altered since I was at university. There was always a cause somewhere, I seem to remember not buying anything from nestle being a big deal.
I’m still astounded. She didn’t want to hurt their feelings or be disrespectful to their efforts by showing a mark to reject all of them. For one, I think choosing not to vote at all does not show more respect, surely it just says you really can’t be bothered. However, the parties have spent a small fortune, members have devoted the last few months of their lives to trying to con us into voting for them, and if in all of that rhetoric, manifesto publishing, publicity stunts and general desperation, they still haven’t found anything to hook you in, then they deserve a spoiled ballot paper.
People fought hard, some with their life, just so you have that right and so no matter what your political leanings, please vote tomorrow – even if it means hurting someone’s feelings.