Why Voting is Pointless
That, right there at the top of the page, is a bold statement. It could probably even get me arrested in some countries! I mean, in this day and age, when troops are going all over the place to promote 'democracy', surely to come out and say voting is pointless is an act of treason…
As is said, it's a bold statement, but the point of this essay is to try to explain the reasons behind my opinions. So I guess I may as well start right away then.
As members of the general population of advanced, civilized, nations, we are given an opportunity to vote. In some countries, like Australia, it isn't so much an opportunity as it is a duty, where you can actually be arrested and jailed if you refuse to vote without having a very good reason. Such as being dead, or in a coma.
Pretty much anything else is not a valid excuse any more. In an age where the more advanced countries actually allow you to cast your votes on-line, just being incapacitated and not able to make it to your local polling station is not good enough. E-mail them instead. It's much faster, simpler, and what makes it even better, is that you get to avoid the rent-a-thugs stood outside the polling station trying to persuade you to vote a certain way.
In most places though, the right to vote is an opportunity, and nothing more. An opportunity for you to have your say in how the Government is made up, and what policies you want them to adopt. If you are a single parent of five kids, and one party is promising extra money for you to help you survive, you vote for them.
On the other hand, if you happen to be a mega-rich industrialist, and one party is planning on implementing policy which would up your operating costs by 100% to help the environment, and the other party isn't, you vote for the one which best suits your bottom line.
At the end of the day, every single person that casts a vote in an election is doing so, or should be anyway, in the belief that the person for whom they make that mark in the box will best represent them over the next x number of years.
As an example, I am a single man, no kids, no dependents at all. I don't own my own business, not any more anyway, and basically earn enough money to live on and that's about all.
Now, when it comes to an election, do I care about tax breaks for married couples? Or, considering my parents and grandparents are all dead, am I likely to be even remotely interested in their plans for raising or lowering inheritance tax? No, and no again, would be the answers there, of course.
I also couldn't give a toss about whether kids get free school meals if their parents earn below a certain amount, or how much money big business will save in taxes next year if they vote x instead of y.
If you could offer me a higher rate of pay for a similar job, then you may get my interest. Other than that, as far as I'm concerned, one politician or political party is identical to every other one out there.
So I choose not to vote, because whatever way I vote, it wont make a difference to my own personal situation.
For most people, though, they are hoping that voting a instead of b will improve their situation in some way. And they have a perfectly valid right to expect that. After all, what are you voting for, exactly, when you head down to the polling station, of not the person that will best represent you in the coming years?
But this is where the problem lies. Because there isn't a politician out there that is interested in representing you. They are only interested in representing themselves, or, where possible, the interests of those who donated the most money to their election campaign.
In the United Kingdom, we have the Houses of Parliament, made up of the House of Lords and the House of Commons.
As the names might suggest, the House of Lords is where the Lords of the myriad manors of England sit and pontificate on rules and matters of law. These people are not elected official, but are instead, for the most part, people who are there because they were born into a family that at some point in the past pleased one King or another enough to be awarded a title.
They are no more in touch with reality than the average rugby player is in touch with his feminine side! And yet, whenever a new law is passed in the House of Commons, it has to be rubber-stamped by the unelected Peers in the House of Lords.
Then, of course, we have the House of Commons, so named because it is the place that any person who wishes to have a say in how the country is run can aspire to, no matter how common they may be.
The House of Commons is what the British are voting to fill every time there is a General Election, for those people reading this who have no idea of how the political system in England works.
Now, once the election is completed, and the Government is formed, we have a maximum period of five years where the party in power gets to control how the country is run. They are the people that make the decisions that matter to the average man and woman in the street. The people who decide whether Britain should go to war with somebody, and if so, how many troops do we send?
The ones responsible for ensuring that the economy is stable, and that as many people as possible have jobs, and as and when needed efficient and effective medical treatment is available.
Of course, these are just a few of their duties. They also have to find new and more interesting ways in which to spend the taxpayers money on themselves, such as paying for a second home, employing members of their family as assistants on exorbitant wages, sometimes even claiming their mistresses as important and vital members of their office staff.
Not all politicians are like this, of course. Some of them are honest people, who would no more steal from the tax payer than you or I would laugh at the sight of an old person falling down on an icy street. But most of them are in it for the money.
Regardless of whether they are after the money or not though, all politicians have one thing in common. A thirst for power. And it is this thirst that prevents even the good and honest politicians from doing the thing for which they were elected. Which, remember, is representing you.
For the most part, when the Government in the UK proposes a bill, it passes without any issues. After all, they won the election and have the most seats, so the majority is assured when it comes to a vote. But sometimes, the bill being presented is a contentious one, something that makes a few people sit up and think about whether or not it is actually in the best interests of everyone in the country.
So they might decide to vote against their own party on this particular issue.
This is perfectly right and proper, as they were elected to represent the majority of the people after all. I don't think there is a single documented case in history of a politician being elected by the public because he could be relied upon to toe the party line! But, in the end, this is what they all end up doing.
If it becomes clear that a certain person is intending to vote against a particular bill, then he will be called in to see the Prime Minister, just as an unruly child at school will be called in to see the Head Teacher.
The idea behind this is to remind the person involved of their position in the party, and make sure that they do what is expected of them, otherwise there could be consequences for their career down the line. Yes, they have a nice, safe seat at the moment, but when it comes to the next election the party will nominate somebody else for that seat, leaving them out in the cold.
The same thing happens in the United States, where Senators and Congressmen, elected on a state by state basis to represent the people of that state, instead represent just a few small interests and ignore the common man and woman. After all, the average man and woman might donate maybe a hundred dollars to an election campaign, but the NRA might donate millions, and, especially in America, it is the money that gets people elected.
So if, for example, there is a school shooting in Vermont, and the President proposes a bill banning semi-automatic machine guns as a result, the Senator for Vermont may agree wholeheartedly with the bill. Chances are, the people of Vermont will probably agree.
After all, he is only banning semi-automatic machine guns. Your hunting rifle is still safe, and the handgun your wife has in her purse in case some psycho tries to rape her is fine as well.
But the NRA, who may have funded the Senator's election campaign, will point out that if he supports this bill, at the next election they will back his opponent. And if they gave him 10 million dollars this time, they will put 50 million against him next time round.
The NRA is just one example of course. It could be big tobacco, big oil, whoever. At the end of the day, the Senator will vote for what the money tells him to, not what the people who elected him would prefer him to.
And come the next election, when the people remember how he went against them on a bill that was important to them, there will be lots of money for a campaign pointing out all the flaws and weaknesses of his opponent, and reminding people that although it may seem like he let them down that one time, in reality, it was nothing compared to how many times the other guy will let you down if you give him a chance.
I think somewhere in the American Declaration of Independence it mentions a Government by the people, of the people, for the people, or something along those lines. But in reality, is that what you actually have in this day and age?
The vast majority of people don't even bother to vote anymore, mainly because of the kind of apathy that I feel when it comes to politics. It doesn't matter who you vote for, because things will always stay the same regardless.
In the United Kingdom, your life wont change because you voted Labour instead of Conservative. In America, Democrat or Republican. Really, what is the difference between the two?
They may seem different, on paper, but is there really that much between them. If you are in the Bible belt, it wont make a difference whether you have a Democrat or Republican representing you, as they will both be cut from the same cloth anyway.
If you are in New York, seriously, does it honestly matter which party your Senator or Congressman belongs to? If he is from New York, then you can be fairly confident that his views are much more liberal than those of the Senator or Congressman for Kentucky!
And you can also be sure that when it comes down to an important vote, wherever they are from, the people attending that vote will go with what the money that got them there tells them to do.
England or America, Conservative or Republican, Labour or Democrat.
It makes no difference where you are or what you vote. Just a couple of years ago the whole world was rejoicing when America elected a black man as President, and now he is looking increasingly like a lame duck, just limping along until he can get out of office. Constantly being hamstrung by the Senate and Congress on important bills.
The thing that nobody seemed to pick up on at the time was the blatant plagiarism of his campaign slogan. He went on and on about how America and American politics was broken, then asked a question, which he answered himself.
"Can we fix it?"
"Yes we can."
I don't know about anyone else, but that sounds awfully like the Bob the Builder theme tune to me. Now, if we are electing the most powerful man on the planet on the basis of a Bob the Builder song, seriously.
Is there really any point in voting? Or was I right all along?
Maybe the whole thing really is pointless.