May. 6th, 2010 01:32 am
mirrorshard: (Default)
[personal profile] mirrorshard
If you have a vote in the General Election, you'd better use it.

I'd like to say I don't mind who you vote for, but that's only true if it isn't one of the barking-mad lunatic fringe parties who want to drag the UK back into an imagined lily-white 1950s utopia. So: no BNP, UKIP, or Conservative votes, please.

I have good friends with Conservative beliefs; I don't have any issues with those, and share some of them. It's the character, habits, and values of the overwhelming mass of the parliamentary Tory party that I abhor. It's their endless paternalistic sense of hierarchy and entitlement, their disdain for the poor based on an illusory sense of proof-of-ability, less a meritocracy than an inheritocracy. And their dithering incompetence at even tasks that should have been trivially easy, like hammering Gordon Brown down to 2% in the polls by now.

But mostly, I want you to take the damn vote seriously. It's yours; your ancestors (well, someone's ancestors) fought and died so you could have it, and so that it could mean even the little it does right now.

If I made the rules, not using your vote (and spoiling your ballot paper, by writing "no to safe seats", "no to illegal wars", "no to bankers' bonuses", "no to expenses", or anything else you want to protest about on it, is a very good vote) would get it taken away and given to someone in Iraq or Afghanistan who'd be properly grateful for it. Casting your vote ironically, on the other hand, would mean you'd have small children throwing stones at you in the street, and little old ladies pinning copies of Amanda Palmer singles to your lapel. Seriously, that's the grade of "irony" this is. And yes, I've heard it suggested, though thankfully not by anyone I know.

Date: 2010-05-06 01:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I strongly disagree with the final two paragraphs. People must have the right NOT to vote, or voting isn't a "right" at all. Spoiling one's ballot paper or not voting at all is perfectly valid; it might not always be a good idea, but it's not wrong, and people ought not to be told not to do it. If they want to "waste" their vote, that's up to them.

"Someone died so you could vote" is not a million miles from "there are children starving in Africa, so eat your spinach" in logical terms. That didn't work when I was 6, so I don't see why I should respect that version now. History is full of people dying and killing for all sorts of reasons; the fact that they've done so in no way obliges us to take them seriously.

Yes, I'd probably prefer people to vote than not to vote, but I fully respect why people might not wish to do that, and for perfectly good reasons.

Date: 2010-05-06 01:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Nonono, I said spoiling the ballot paper is a good idea if that's what you prefer doing to endorsing any of the available candidates.

As far as not turning up goes, there's certainly an argument for allowing it, but I'd argue that "your" vote isn't your property; it's a public trust. Low turnouts engender apathy and elitism/oligarchy. There's probably a very good case for a more flexible position than must/need not, but I have no clue how we'd go about implementing one.

The dying is incidental, I think; what I was getting at is that so many really smart, committed people cared so passionately about the cause that they put themselves in very proximate harm's way for it, without the symmetry (or the inherent negation, to me) of attempting to kill someone else. Which, to me, is one of the clearest indicators that there's something really important about it.

If I only got the chance to eat once every five years, I'd really, really care about the spinach too, I suspect.

Date: 2010-05-06 01:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Spoiling one's ballot paper is functionally pretty similar to not voting at all, just with more legwork involved. And possible extra lulz for the returning officers.

I'd argue that "your" vote isn't your property; it's a public trust

I violently disagree. There's a reason ballots are secret, and I'm rather glad of it. Voting is up to the conscience - well, not even that! - of each individual. There is no reason to suggest that any voter *must* vote with the interests of the rest of "the public" (as if they could ever be so homogenous) in mind, it's just a nice bonus if they do, but the system was never designed for that to be the case.

I just don't agree that people willingly getting themselves killed for a cause automatically makes it really important, and that seems an odd position for a pacifist, if you don't mind me saying so. Does this mean the Heaven's Gate members were onto something?

I guess your final point is influenced by how much you like spinach. But more generally, it's not true; we get to vote in local council elections and European elections, for starters, and there's a whole swathe of other non-voting political activism available for people to engage with if they want. That doesn't mean I disagree that we have very little input, as individuals, into the voting system, but I do think that insisting it all comes down to one day and one chance to vote is a little simplistic and ignores everything else which gets us to that point.

Honestly, I don't wish to appear to be having a go at you, because I'm not, but every single time there's any election, we're all bombarded with "now make sure you vote!"messages everywhere, so I don't think people really need to be blogging about that particular aspect as well. I'm pretty sure your readers are either going to vote already, or not going to vote for their own reasons. Why the need for finger-wagging?

Date: 2010-05-06 08:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Sorry, I'm obviously being unclear. Of course the data about who you've voted for is and must remain secret; there's no question about that. The franchise, on the other hand, is not a series of individual contracts between people & state.

As for people getting themselves killed, the dying is not the point. I'd rather compare it to (say) battlefield ambulance drivers than loony murder-suicide pacts. I also don't see any contradiction with pacifism; putting yourself at a considered risk, eg. by a hunger strike or a nonviolent protest against violent authorities, has nothing at all to do with harming other people.

As for why I posted this, I think of it as a broken-windows thing: I don't want it to go unremarked or to risk being taken for granted.

Date: 2010-05-06 12:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I don't want it to go unremarked or to risk being taken for granted.

I sympathise, but I honestly don't think there's much risk of that. Everyone's at it.

I'd rather compare it to (say) battlefield ambulance drivers than loony murder-suicide pacts. I also don't see any contradiction with pacifism; putting yourself at a considered risk, eg. by a hunger strike or a nonviolent protest against violent authorities, has nothing at all to do with harming other people.

Sure, but the fact that that was the case doesn't in any way make the cause more worthwhile, just as the fact that pacifists chose to drive battlefield ambulances doesn't mean the First World War was a good idea. My point is that the worthiness of any cause should be examined on its particular merits, not by the amount of kerfuffle it caused.

Date: 2010-05-06 09:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I am very glad you do *not* have the power to force me to vote. I do vote, it is a choice. Forcing me to takes away my human right to self determination and forces it on me as a duty, something that I would be vehemently opposed to

Date: 2010-05-06 12:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

I have a real problem with systems which mandate voting, as I regard that as an infringement on our civil liberties.

Date: 2010-05-06 02:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
As you know, darling, I don't really agree that voting should be compulsory (and I think you've not quite made it clear enough that you do genuinely see a sensibly spoiled ballot paper as equivalent to a vote?). I also think that for those with centre-right views, voting Tory and then working to make them more compassionate and sensible is a legitimate thing to do. (I'm worried about how left out [ profile] megamole must be feeling today! If all Tory-voters were like him I'd feel a lot better about life. He I really do trust to try to change things from within.)

Having said that, I still think this is an awesome and thought-provoking post, with your usual glorious hyperbolic ranting making me as happy as always. :-) And I do agree that voting is a civic duty. I think the introduction of a proper "you're all crap, please offer something different" option on ballot papers, that was actually paid attention to and had some impact, would be a very good way of raising turn-out - perhaps rendering compulsory voting unnecessary?

*loves you*

Date: 2010-05-08 07:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Before I'd see any step towards making voting mandetory there would first need to be a choice. A choice in candidate (rather than two options from the Very Corporate Party - Red Man or Blue Man - and one from the Slightly Less Corporate Party) and a choice to re-open because you support none of the above.

I've never lived in one of the 80 or so swing seats in the country. I've never lived in a seat where my vote is actually going to achieve anything other than waste my time because I've never lived in a seat with a party running that even comes close to representing my views.

I didn't vote. I stayed home and ignored it until about 19:00 the next day when I took a look on the BBC to see who had won. Again, as always when I look at the results of SMSP votes I was angered by the relative voter numbers compared to seats and then clicked to close the window.

For there to be mandatory voting there must be a choice. For there to be a choice there must actually be differing ideologies, not similiar ideologies which vary very slightly in hue.

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