Friday 24 April 2009

So I voted yesterday.

The only real difference in attitudes this time, as far as I can see, is that people of my age seem to be a lot more self-righteous if they've voted, using social networking sites to keep tabs on who has and hasn't voted and abusing friends who didn't vote. So basically voting is the new status symbol or something, which is as stupid an attitude as any I've heard of.

People think that not voting means you don't care about the country, you don't care about democracy or you just didn't try hard enough. I think that's largely nonsense.

I don't happen to care much about the country myself; I voted because, whether I care or not, the result sort of impacts my life, although statistically my specific contribution is unlikely to make any difference. Unless the good guys, whoever they may be, lose by one vote or something, and I believe that's the sort of situation coalitions exist to avoid.

I think democracy is an interesting, if flawed, idea, but it certainly needs to be one part of a viable political system. It doesn't guarantee a fair, egalitarian environment, since it can co-exist more or less comfortably with monarchy, fascism, nazism, communism and, if India is anything to go by, a crawling chaos that can only betoken the complete supremacy of dreaded Nyarlathotep. I can't think of anything better, so I'm content to go along with it.

As for not trying hard enough, the fact is that our civil service machinery still has a great deal of inefficiency built into it; things have improved considerably, but it's still a task to run an event that involves around a billion people, and records are bound to get lost and names mixed up - it isn't necessarily the fault of the voter if it happens

Look, elections aren't the new cool lifestyle statement. They're something you have to think about for yourself to decide to vote for, or whether to vote at all. There are several completely reasonable reasons not to vote which are consistent with patriotism, democratic ideals and so forth. Some people might say that is worse to participate in, and abet a corrupt or dysfunctional system. I veer towards that view a lot of the time, but I vote anyway. I've got the time to spare and it's nice to go for a stroll that early in the morning.


Mahesh Raj Mohan said...

I hear ya. I worked for a "get out the vote" organization for about three months a few years ago. I didn't like being pushy about it, and I've known my fair share of self-righteous folks. (I can veer in that direction when I've got my blood up.)

I'm glad to hear there have been improvements. My Mom just visited India (mainly the north), and she was glad to see many of the changes in New Delhi.

K said...

I didn't vote for years because I didn't think any of them rascals deserved to win, and if they did, at least I didn't want to be responsible for it in any way. But then some years ago I realised that if I don't vote someone is using my vote for one of these louts anyway. Political parties hope fewer people vote so they can manipulate more and more votes. There was some theory that poll dates are near weekends so that maximum janta is out on weekend breaks - though I am not sure this is not craptheory.

I am glad someone made the point about how voting has become a lifestyle and status symbol, but due to this a large part of the stupid people our society is made of will vote: all your Page 3 people and Bollywood people, all the butterflies with nothing to do, at least they will get up and vote coz they think it is cool. If they get cheap thrills anouncing it on social networking sites, let them, I say.

So did you, didn't you? :-)

JP said...

>>a large part of the stupid people our society is made of will vote

50% turnout in Bangalore; down 4%. In other words: the facts don't bear you out.

Also, I was commenting about the hounding of people who didn't vote on facebook. Several 'I am not your friend anymore you suck' type messages seen on profiles of friends who couldn't or didn't.

Shenoy said...

Hey jp, glad to know you voted man. for whetever reason and whoever for. the only point i disagree with you is on the 'statement' bit. why can't the ink mark be a lifestyle statement pray tell? it's better than having the latest car model or the watch worn or the hang out place as your lifestyle statement ya? it's a duty we all must fulfill instead of lavishing ourselves on the rights that (this flawed idea called) democracy gives us. and our constitution. till we can change it, let's play by the rules. till we can have a penalty clause clause for non-voters, why not make voting the new cool thing?
at least they will have some reason to vote, even if it is a protest vote.

another point you are wrong in is the whether to vote at all. There is the section 49(0). You can vote yet not vote for anybody. it's a duty see?

you can have the best of both worlds, instead of coming across as running with the hare and hunting with the hounds.

*K (whoever you are, anony-mouse)
Any reason is a good enough reason when it comes to voting, even if it is just for an early morning stroll. So do try and stop making it sound like only the stupid people and those with time on their hands and nothing to do are the only ones thaty vote. going by the turnout that would be true. not! i am glad it's a lifestyle symbol. it's a lot more substantial statement and time well spent than protesting outside dharna central for inconsequential causes. and cheaper than burning a candle. bleh!

K said...

JP, it seems most people couldn't vote in Bangalore even though they tried to coz their names were missing from the list. It seems to be a common problem over years; these votes are of course misused somehow or the other.

Shenoy, my name is K for you. JP, for instance, knows who I am, and for others K is as good as Shenoy, as far as I am concerned. Also: Stop misunderstanding what I say and do spare me the ranting. Just because you make your point more aggressively doesn't make it any different. Read closely: we are almost saying the same thing, just differently. I have a problem people making voting a status symbol, and you don't. This is fine with me.

I am glad you pointed out the right to vote for noone though, Jayaps I forgot to mention that earlier. You can choose not to vote for anyone, thereby not letting anyone misuse your vote. In fact that's what had made me start to vote.

Candles. Heh. JP remember that debate. Oh dear. I even lost a Facebook friend over that one! Bleh, indeed.

JP said...

>>till we can have a penalty clause clause for non-voters, why not make voting the new cool thing?

a) Penalty clause: Do you really want to go down that route? Reasons not to vote might include laziness, stupidity, ignorance, apathy, conscientious objection, systemic failure. All these reasons are not morally equivalent. It's worth arguing that, if democracy is about people deciding for themselves, going by the voting turnout in Bangalore the people are undecided about how important it is to vote. You might even claim it would be undemocratic to impose something for which there is no clear majority support.

b) why not make voting the new cool thing?

Apart from the aesthetic horror inspired in me by the concept, it doesn't work, just like making staying of drugs the next cool thing couldn't work.

The only real answer to the non-voting conundrum, as with most things, is familial commitment. If people tell their children and grandchildren to vote, and lead by example, we will have a society of voters.

Still, I defend anyone's right not to vote. Poor fuckers, leave them alone.

Shenoy said...

Hey, JP, yeah, i wouldn't mind going down that route. as far as being undemocratic (for which there is no majority support) goes, that's what we have today anyway, is it not? An MP who gets elected by a 'majority' from the less-than-half of the voting public who do vote.

And i think the equating of voting with drugs is misplaced. just for starters, you can't vote whenever you want to. but yes, would liek to see voting become addictive (not advocating mid-terms here). But in the end, i do hope whatever be the means, we have, as you put it, a society of voters.

A random (to me) alphabet is not the same as a string of alphabets that spell out (what is supposed to be) a name. And which is. As far as i am concerned, ye be an anonymous.