Thursday, 6 May 2010

Voting may be bad for your health


Well, that's that done.

My participation in the democratic process of a state I don't agree with is over for another 4 or 5 years (or less, depending how badly they screw it up). 

I have to say, being an undecided isn't easy.  Even though I was 90% sure who I was voting for, I still took a full 2 or 3 minutes looking at the paper before I put a cross in a box.  And walking home (which took less time than I spent in the polling booth) I considered what I'd just done.  And felt a little sick in the stomach

Voting is underestimated in its importance.  I mean, yes, people fought battles, people died to allow us to vote freely and fairly - and of course people shouldn't take that lightly - and most don't.  But my point is more about democracy itself.

Churchill said democracy was the worst system, except for all the others that had been tried.  And its true - it is by no means perfect.  Rousseau was not a fan of representative democracy, of people taking an active interest and role in politics only once every four or five years, of instilling their trust in one person to represent their views, to vote on legislation in their place for a period of time until a further plebiscite should take place.

As I reflected on my way home that 62 million (or even 5 million in Scotland) is probably too large for direct democracy, I thought about what I had just done. I had given my vote not to someone whom I believed would vote the way I would on legislation (though, in hindsight, he probably will) nor to someone with whom I identified fully.  No, I'd actually given my vote to someone who, like Churchill and democracy, was the "least worst" candidate. 

And I was disappointed with myself.  Not for my choice - I've agonised over this one for weeks, months even.  I was disappointed with the choice presented to me, the system within which my voice was to be heard (and, ironically, one of the main reasons I voted the way I did).  

The least worst option my choice may have been.  But it was not the best, and that proves to me, without a shadow of a doubt, that reform is needed.

When I got home, I washed my hands.

5 comments:

Polunskers 6 May 2010 at 17:58  

Your views of Calum Cashley are misguided by hurt pride. You were lucky enough to have one of the smartest and most decent, fair-minded blokes in the race on the ballot paper. Shame you couldn't see it.

Malc 6 May 2010 at 18:16  

Thanks for that.

Hurt my pride may be, and guided by that my views may be - but "misguided"? I'm not entitled to make my mind up on who to vote for based on my personal experiences?

You're entitled to your view. I'm entitled to mine. And mine guided my vote. Call me bitter if you like - I'm pretty sure its been said about me on many occasions before.

Stuart Winton 6 May 2010 at 19:03  

Hi Malc, I voted for someone I didn't particularly want either, but I wasn't in the least bit squeamish about it, and it took me about three seconds in the polling booth!

Congrats on being interviewed for the BBC website. But couldn't help but notice this awful repetition from the journalist in reporting what you said:

"Malcolm Harvey says it's been an interesting campaign in terms of how the parties and traditional media have used new media to get their point across: "I think this has been an interesting campaign in terms of how the parties - and broadcasters and newspapers - have used new media to get their point across.""

Also, what do you mean by the term "man years" in the following:

"I do think people will be energised by this, and we just might see voter turnout rise for the first time in man years."

Malc 6 May 2010 at 19:20  

Stuart,

I'm pretty sure it was meant to be "many" years. I suspect the Beeb doesn't employ that many folk on its sub-editing staff!

Stuart Winton 6 May 2010 at 19:29  

Thanks, Malc, I should have managed to work that one out by myself, but I thought it was perhaps a turn of phrase that I was unfamiliar with. Pretty obvious really.

Aye, perhaps it's a sign of the times at the Beeb, maybe they're having to tighten their belts a bit.

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