17.4.09

This blogger just loves Grief, dontchaknow?

Long, looooong post. To make up for the long, loooooooooooong gaps in posting.

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So it's that time of the half-decade again, where one's moral and social integrity will be repeatedly appealed to and put up for questioning. Where whether or not you did it matters more than if you didn't do it, regardless of their being better reasons for choosing the latter. Where either you're part of the progress, or you're just a whining ingrate.

Oh yeh, baby, it's Election Time.

And by this time, you will have spent at least six months being bombarded by slick ads, flyers in your mail, group invites on social networking sites, and dinner-party arguments. Most of which will say that you have to vote, because it's your duty, and because the alternative isn't really a viable option, and because if you don't vote, you're as bad as a woodpecker on caffeine, and why are you still living here, again?

All valid arguments, surely?
Nuh-uh.

Let's get this straight. People should vote, it's just that it's not like they must. I'm still to hear an argument that offers more reasons to vote than reasons not to if the candidates do not deserve to be elected .

Let's examine those pro-reasons a bit -
1) Elections are expensive. Re-elections would cost more money to a country that can't afford it anyway.

2) Elections are time-consuming. The amount of time spent in organising and holding one is a drain on society, which could be used for better productivity.

3) If you don't like the candidates, vote for the least worst of the lot.

4) It's your duty as a citizen to vote. If nobody voted, how would anybody get elected, and if nobody got elected, how would any government form, and if no government was formed, how would any decisions be made, and if no decisions got made, how would the country run?

5) Oh, and if you don't vote, you don't get to complain.

To which I say, poppycock.

I don't know why I say it, except that the word is rather pleasing, even if it is rather suggestive. It's also a delightfully dismissive word. Say it. Poppycock. Popppppycock. Even better, say Tosh and poppycock. It flows, does it not? Also, it sounds more dismissive, if possible.

However, I suspect that would not suffice, and I would be required to present some more coherent rebuttals. So 'erewegothen.

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Firstly - and (to me) most importantly - it's not my duty to vote.

It's my right to.

Just like it's my right to be given a choice of candidates who may differ in ideals and strategems and plans, but who do aim to do some good.

Just like it's my right to expect those who want to be responsible for the futures of numerous others, to be responsible enough to be chosen.

Just like it's my right to decide not to exercise that right, if I judge that those who yearn for it are not equal to the task.

I can vote, but that does not mean I have to. I would like to, but I do not accept that I must, whether I like it or not.

And why?

Because a choice between a thug and a thief is no choice at all.
Because a choice between someone with a personal agenda and someone who plunges into the fray with no ideas but with "good intent" is even worse.
Because, in good conscience, I cannot help select someone I know is unworthy.
Because I refuse to bring someone to power just for the sake of it.

And because the lesser of two evils is always - always - still an evil.

I've never got that theory - Choose him, he'll only build 14 totally pointless flyovers....No, no, choose her, she'll only let her brothers build 20 new skyscrapers....No, no, choose one of them, they have no criminal records.
Not done.
If you will not hire somebody in your house, or in your business, who you know is incompetent; if you will ask them for references to show that they're not going to kill you while you sleep; if you're going to report them to the police if they steal your belongings - then how can you hire somebody like that to rule over the fate of hundreds of thousands of people?

It's a sad state of affairs when you're voting for someone solely because of their lack of criminal activity, regardless of whether anything in their lives has prepared them for the kind of multi-tasking, people-oriented, negotiating-heavy skills that politics requires.

Secondly.

Yes, elections may be expensive - but they're less expensive than the money that gets wasted by and on incompetent idiots elected from them. Think salaries, housing, travel, security and all the other perks that get given to someone who doesn't do their job properly. And all the money that gets thrown at unnecessary projects by these people, or worse, on not doing anything.

I'd rather not vote to power someone who I know is going to waste all the money that is collected from me after I work hard to earn it - even if it means wasting all the money that goes into organising an election.

Thirdly.

I'm not asking for saints. I'm not asking for Mr. Perfect or Ms. Awesome. I'm just asking for people who have some understanding of the world around them. Who have some basic understanding of socio-economics, health, and infrastructure. Who have some reason that drove them to do this job besides the greed of all that loot they could wallow in. Who have some sense of shame and accountability.

And since all of that's not going to happen anytime soon, don't expect me to vote either.

As for the last point, if you dare tell me that I can't complain because I didn't vote, then - as the lovable Irish so politely put it - feck off, ya gobby piece of shite.

I didn't give a driving license to the idiots who zoom past me while I'm cycling round a blind corner, but I sure as heck can complain about them. I didn't ask the damn banks to mess around with the world's economy, but I sure as heck can complain about them. And while I may not have voted the idiot who's ruining my city/state/country, I sure as heck can complain about the idiots who did.

Don't tell me I can't complain, because hey, did you see the alternatives? I can refuse to be part of what is at best a compromise, and at worse, a total surrender of beliefs and ideals - and still retain the right to complain about those who do (at least...I think I can).

And yes, yes, stop jumping about, I haven't forgotten point 4.

So, what option does this leave us? No elected candidates, hung parliaments and President's Rule? Like that would help. But, it's not like the option we've gone for all these years has been that brilliant in comparison, has it? I've never been a fan of the government system, and in countries like India, a lot of the progress that has taken place has come about because of the aims and work of interested citizen groups. Despite the government, not because of it.

Of course, that's a simplistic argument. We've unfortunately painted ourselves into a corner where it is pretty nigh impossible to break out of the country-state model that has emerged, and governments are a necessary evil. I'd like to think there's a better way of making the system better than by not voting, but the simple answer is - I don't know.

I'd like to think that if we keep rejecting candidates, the people who put them up for our approval will get the hint and propose somebody else. And that method of elimination, however arbitrary and faulty (and it is both, to an extreme degree), will be better than the system we currently have. But I'm not getting my hopes up too much there, either.

So, vote if you want to, and please vote if you find somebody who's decent and looks like they could improve (or at least change) things. But for the love of all things purple, don't do it because you're told you have to, don't do it and feel you've "done your bit" for the country, and please please don't do it because you're accused of "being asleep" by a holier-than-thou advertisement.

Right. That's me done. Now, bring on the grief.



Note:
In case you were going to vote, and thinking of using that much-hyped '49-0' clause, the actual rule, as detailed in The Conduct of Elections Rules 1961, is as follows:
"If an elector, after his electoral roll number has been duly entered in the register of voters in Form-17A and has put his signature or thumb impression thereon as required under sub-rule (1) of rule 49L, decided not to record his vote, a remark to this effect shall be made against the said entry in Form 17A by the presiding officer and the signature or thumb impression of the elector shall be obtained against such remark".
Which, in itself, raises a whole host of issues.

Such as,
Oi you parochial jerk, whatever happened to 'his/her'?
And
Oi, isn't this a secret ballot?
And
So.....this doesn't come under 'pressuring the voter'?

However, let's leave those for the moment. Do note that there's nothing in the rules which specifies that if the number of 'non-votes' is greater than the number of votes for any candidate, that particular election will be declared null and void. Which obviously puts paid to the theory being suggested that the same candidates can therefore not stand in that election again.

As of now, all that happens is that you go to the polling station, prove that you are who your card claims you to be, get ready to vote and then spring this option on the polling officials. Who will then sigh and bang their foreheads on the nearest wall and wonder why they had to be assigned to this station and suffer such fools, after which melodrama they will note your non-vote against your name in the voting register (since the Electronic Voting Machines do not allow for a non-vote), and everybody around you will stare at you as if you just pulled a purple skateboard from your left nostril.

And, if you're really unlucky, one of those avid starers will be the snitch for one of the candidates' local henchmen, who will then come around to thump you some after his boss loses by one vote.

What's worse, although the details of how many votes were cast for each candidate are proudly proclaimed, the number of non-votes currently aren't. They will just go in the 'Abstain' tally, and won't go towards the overall number of votes cast, thus skewing each candidate's actual percentage of votes won/total number of votes cast. Now, Wikiboo says there's a petition and all to alter this, but nothing's official yet.

19 comments:

Space Bar said...

anyone who invokes purple has my vote.

the guys at my polling station were totally hilarious. they didn't check our cards; only the coupons that parties come deliver a couple of days before voting. when we insisted that they check, they sighed (we were the first voters. they shoulda been as fresh as daisies) and glanced at the card.

heck, they'd have let me vote in my fathers' name because i could produce a coupon.

??! said...

There you go. First blood to me (I knew I could rely on you).

Shyam said...

You wont get any grief from me. Just a depressed thumbs-up.

km said...

I'd like to think that if we keep rejecting candidates, the people who put them up for our approval will get the hint and propose somebody else.The cynic in me says that's just a pipe dream. The dreamer in me wants the cynic to shut the hell up and remember that the world has had leaders like Lincoln and M.K. Gandhi and Gorbachev...

Because a choice between a thug and a thief is no choice at all.Thug, any day. But mostly because "thuggaree" is a word I like.

Falstaff said...

If you will not hire somebody in your house, or in your business, who you know is incompetent; if you will ask them for references to show that they're not going to kill you while you sleep; if you're going to report them to the police if they steal your belongings - then how can you hire somebody like that to rule over the fate of hundreds of thousands of people? Except, of course, that in this case not hiring is not an option - someone will get the job anyway.

I'd like to think that if we keep rejecting candidates, the people who put them up for our approval will get the hint and propose somebody else.Yes, the nearest available puppet.

DewdropDream said...

Why cannot there be a speedier method? Like put them all useless politicians on a spacecraft programmed to crash on a doomed planet (thank you, Douglas Adams) and get rid of them all at once. Then there won't be an election. and sure there would be chaos. But I personally think that chaos would be resolved better than the current one.

And aye, holier-than-thou ads that tell you're asleep coz you don't vote... poppycock!

brinda said...

Sigh! I disagree with this on so many levels, I can almost write a book -- or maybe a blog :-) (NOT going to happen!)

So, just one thing. See, if my only choice is between a dishonest party and one that believes in doing physical violence to all, then I choose what I think is the lesser of the two evils. I can't simply wish into existence a third party that is idealistic or morally upright or even plain competent, just because I believe that it is my right to have that party. And my not voting is not going to bring that party into existence either. Someone called the elections the great Indian jugaad -- and it is just that: make do with what there is. And between the thug and the thief, we've still managed to get somewhere; yes, because of citizens' groups etc, but also because both the thug and the thief know that if they cross that invisible line, they will be in political wilderness for the next five years.

(Oh, and those blasted ads should be banned! If I see another, I may not vote!)

AKM said...

This is so illogical that I assume you wrote this merely to be contrary-cool.

But in case you aren't, and you seriously think that by not voting you will not have a representative, and that by not voting you are in some way expressing your desire for a better candidate to the parties : man, I'd like some of what you are smoking.

??! said...

Shyam:
Aye.

KM/Falsie:
That, of course, is a real possibility. And a likely scenario.

DDD/Brin:
Glad to see someone hates the ads as much as I do.

Brin/AKM:
Well, that's the crux. I'm not saying the morons will put up someone better (although I hope they might).

I'm saying that by agreeing to a choice between two evils, just because we have to, we condone the whole practice. By agreeing to be a party to the farce, we sully ourselves. And we condemn ourselves.

I don't believe for a moment that the parties will realise what I'm doing (unless a hundred thousand of me write in to them and explain) - I'm not just saying I refuse to be a part of this process. Unless, of course, there is somebody worth voting for.

Yes, it's idealistic, but sometimes you get tired of compromises.

wiseling said...

Poppycock. Hahaha. Almost as good as Chittercock. Almost.

??! said...

That obviously should have been ..."I'm just saying" (ignore the extra 'not' there).

Espèra said...

At first read, your post is very convincing.

But like Brinda says, we can't dream up a third party that is neither a thug nor a thief.
You're voting in the lesser of the two evils, which is still an evil, but at least it's lesser!
Supposing you abstain from voting and everyone else with free minds abstains too, and the greater of the two evils is elected, we *will* have to put up with it.

Your argument about the driving license isn't valid in this context because you don't have a choice in giving others their licenses. Here, you can choose who should be in, and who shouldn't be. And if, despite that, you don't, either you can be content with the party in power, because you'd have voted for them, had you been forced to, or you can be discontented, but since you didn't vote in the alternative, you're technically just being fussy.

I'm all for the non-vote system. But right now, we don't have that system. So we'll just have to plod along and vote for the lesser evils.

Moi? I'm not voting.
*grins widelY*

Szerelem said...

I'm mostly glad I am not voting this time to be honest. I couldn't ever vote for the BJP and the Congress hasn't done anything in the last five years to make me vote for them - and there aren't any major regional players in my constituency so those are the two options anyway. It's causing my parents much depression...

I know quite a few people in Bombay who are choosing to vote for independents just to make a point .

??! said...

Espera:
you're technically just being fussy Excuse me. I'm normally just fussy. Please. Some credit here, ok?

Szer:
That's what I'd do too. I've seen some of the voting sites that have come up, and it is heartening how many professionals have now stepped into the race.

wiseling said...

Why did I get ignored? :(

??! said...

wiseling:
Aii! Bad bad.

I must admit, I don't recall coming up against that particular word before. It is not made-up?

brinda said...

One wet blanket here. Voting for competent, committed independents is a great idea. Except, face it, they simply do not have the clout (neither crowds nor money) that an established political party has. So what invariably happens is that the greater evil might win simply because people who might have voted for the lesser evil decided to vote for the independent. Yes, it does sometimes happen that an independent candidate wins, which inspires others to stand. But you know that winning is the exception and not the rule and there are too many parties only too willing to pay for votes and too many people with absolutely no reason to refuse that money

wiseling said...

Oh no, never. One does not use made up words. One is not a cheater. :P

??! said...

Wiseling:
*slaps head*. I get it, I get it.