Many in the UK will be heading out on Thursday to place our crosses in our prospective boxes and play our part in our democratic system. I’m really not sure what way I’m hoping it will go. I’m kind of dreading every possible outcome (granted, a Tory/UKIP coalition is the only one that actually makes me physically shudder, so I guess that’s something to root against). But, putting the result aside, I also think it’s going to be interesting to see what the turnout will be. There’s been so much disillusionment these last five painful years. It will be interesting to see whether it’s fired people’s passions, or whether it’s extinguished people’s hopes. Have these last few years of growing inequality, wage repression, spreading foodbanks, NHS sell-offs and stagnated economy enraged people enough to fight back or reduced them to apathetically accept their uncomfortable lot? There’ve been numerous debates in the media about the value of voting. So many people have resigned themselves to the fact that it doesn’t make any difference.
To me, not voting because you’re angry at politicians is like not locking your door because you’re angry at burglars. It just makes it easier for them to screw you over. If you don’t vote then you’ve willingly stepped into the political blind spot. Politicians want power. The only way to obtain power is to convince more people to vote for them than anyway else. So people who don’t vote render themselves irrelevant. Only a foolish politician would waste their time listening to the views of people who don’t vote. Any such people would naturally be ignored as they’ve relinquished their keys to the gates of power.
For example, say you have a demographic that’s renowned for not voting. For the sake of argument let’s call this group ‘Young People’. And say there’s another demographic that’s known to have a consistently high voter turnout. For the sake of argument let’s call this group ‘Pensioners’. If you were a politician, lusting power, with a limited amount of money in the pot, what would you do? Obviously, you’d funnel money away from the ‘Young People’ and use it to buy off the ‘Pensioners’. And that’s exactly what we’ve seen.
The last five years have seen unprecedented levels of cuts across the board, but pensioners have largely escaped the swingeing cuts. That’s great for them. Cameron ‘triple-locked’ their benefits and provisions. Meanwhile, young people have been forced to feel the full brunt of the cuts. Is this surprising? Of course not. But it’s something to consider when listening to people who preach against voting. I honestly think David Cameron must love people like Russell Brand. Young people don’t tend to vote Tory anyway, so convincing them not to vote at all is just less votes for his opponents (although he’s hilariously now changed his famous anti-voting stance at a time when it’s too late to register to vote).
If you want to reduce inequality and increase fairness, convincing people not to vote is last thing you want to do. The only way to work towards equality is for all people, from all demographics, to go out and represent themselves. That’s why I’ll certainly be putting my cross in a box. Granted, I’m not holding out much hope; I’m just trying to work out which is the least worst option.