They're not voting because...
- So I can sleep at night ...
So I can sleep at night with a clear conscience.
I can look an Iraqi in the eye and honestly tell them that the war was absolutely nothing to do with me. I am in no way responsible for putting Labour (or anyone else for that matter) into power.written 8th Apr 2005
Graham replies: Well... you kind of are responsible.
By not voting at all, you are indirectly responsible. If everyone who abstained had voted Lib Dem (or maybe Green), they would have probably won the election, and the UK wouldn't have invaded Iraq.written 8th Apr 2005
Very unlikely, I know, but still theoretically possible.
Sam replies: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
If Labour are re-elected and you did nothing to stop them, then you may be good, but you did nothing, and evil triumphed.written 8th Apr 2005
Ben N replies: Exactly - by not voting, you aren't absolving yourself of responsibility for the government. In fact, your non-vote does less to prevent the pro war government than a cast vote for an anti-war party, so in a way, you are MORE responsible than those of us who voted.written 8th Apr 2005
Lee replies: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
Well, turning up to abstain is actually a better thing to do then compared to turning up and voting for somebody who would also do evil.written 8th Apr 2005
Sam replies: The Lib-dems and Greens (and a few other minor ones) are both anti-war parties. If you feel so strongly about the war, you should vote for one of those.
Personally, I find it totally unacceptable that there exists a government which feels it can rule the country instead of govern it, and the only long term solution to that is a drastic downsizing and decentralisation of all government activies.written 8th Apr 2005
TL replies: Ok so I vote for an Anti-War party (who then gets into government and then screws up the economy or whatever).
Are you seriously suggesting voting in a Government on the basis of one issue only? That is just sheer idiocy.
While I do have sympathies with the Green party, you tell me what their stance is on monetary policy or Law and Order?
If voting were based on issues, I could Vote "no" to the war and have my other opinions reflected by voting on other topics. As it stands I have to accept many evils just for the sake of voicing my preference on a single topic. That is totally unacceptable to me. I won't be part of it and you can say whatever you like to ease your own consciences.
And as for voting "Liberal Democrat" ......... I have seen their policies on Europe and all I can say is "over my dead body".
If you are all so "pro-Vote" what are you doing on this site in the first place?written 8th Apr 2005
Anonymous replies: Please note the purpose of this site:
"We won't try to persuade you that voting is a good or a bad idea - we're just here to record and share your explanations. Whether ideological, practical or other, any reason will do."
Vilifying non-voters and coming up with ludrious statements like they are MORE responsible for the war than people who actually voted Labour in, is not going to encourage people to engage politically even at this minor level.
Perhaps you'd like it better if they just sat at home and kept their opinions to themselves.written 8th Apr 2005
Francis Irving replies: It's fair enough to not want to be part of it - even though I do vote, I refuse to join any political party for just the same reasons. However, if we just all withdraw, then we'll be leaving all the power to the parties. So what positive things can we do instead?written 8th Apr 2005
David N replies: "As it stands I have to accept many evils just for the sake of voicing my preference on a single topic."
Do you think you won't have to accept those evils if you don't vote?
"If you are all so "pro-Vote" what are you doing on this site in the first place?"
Some people give reasons for not voting which are quite easily solved (e.g. you hate Labour for the war? Then vote tactically to get them out! You think the alternative would be worse? Then vote for Labour to make sure we aren't lumbered with that worse choice!). I think it's a good idea to point these things out. Imagine if someone said "I'm not voting because I don't know how." Wouldn't you feel a responsibility to help them out?
There are more substantial reasons not to vote; I have no beef with them.written 8th Apr 2005
TL replies: "There are more substantial reasons not to vote; I have no beef with them."
Such as?written 8th Apr 2005
David N replies: TL: some people don't believe in democracy and find it personally or religiously offensive to take part in one. I don't really have anything to say to them.written 8th Apr 2005
TL replies: "Do you think you won't have to accept those evils if you don't vote?"
Most probably, yes. But I won't have facilitated them.
How does voting for these evils (and thereby giving them legitimacy by actively supporting them) help the situation?
You assume that there's a party in existence that has no policies that I find intolerable. If that were the case then I would have already voted a long time ago.written 8th Apr 2005
David N replies: TL: consider this: you are required to choose whether to be punched in the face or in the stomach. You don't get to opt out. You have to choose one or the other. It doesn't matter if both are horrible; one of them is coming to you no matter what. If you say nothing, someone else will decide for you.
That is the situation we are in. I fully agree with you that all the parties are scumbags to a greater or lesser degree. Personally though, the solution seems to lie in doing away with the government all together, and the Tories, while authoritarian thugs on some issues, are the best hope for shrinking government down to size.written 8th Apr 2005
TL replies: David N. I do understand what you are saying about at least having some say in which one of a number of horrible choices people are to be subjected to. From your comments it seems that you may possibly subscribe to the "lesser of 2 evils" school of thought (which I do not - at least not when it comes to politics).
However (in my opinion) your analogy has some flaws.
" ...you are required to choose whether to be punched in the face or in the stomach. You don't get to opt out."
But in reality I DO get to opt out. It is not (yet) illegal to not vote, so I am excercising my legal right to abstain. No one can force me to make a decision.
"It doesn't matter if both are horrible; one of them is coming to you no matter what. If you say nothing, someone else will decide for you."
If that is the case, then it will happen to me whether I make a choice or not. So why make the person's job easier? I'll let them decide.
Plus, there is the issue of 'legtimacy' of the action. The perpetrator can claim that "it's what people want, because they asked for it". Governments bleat on about having been "given a mandate by the public" all the time, That argument becomes more and more laughable as voting attendances plummet. If someone makes the choice and says "Ok, please punch me in the " can they really then complain that they were 'assaulted' and that in fact they never wanted to be hit at all?
I may well end up getting punched one way or the other, but I am not going to make the person doing it feel any better by complying with his wish to make me choose my own punishment.
"I fully agree with you that all the parties are scumbags to a greater or lesser degree.... "
I wouldn't quite go that far. Just as most parties have policies that I find despicable, most parties also have at least some policies that I favour. The problem is that the policies that I find despicable are such anathema to me, that I could not bring myself to support any party that espoused such policies (regardless of how innocuous or favourable their other policies might be).
I am not looking for a party that I agree with 100% just one that doesn't have policies that I find totally abhorrent.
I'm still looking.written 8th Apr 2005
Robert Snell replies: You'll never find the 'perfect party'. Which is why right now you must make a compromise and put your trust in them to run things for you. Abstaining is NOT the answer, just like trying to ignore a bad smell in your kitchen and hoping it'll simply go away, it won't work.
One day perhaps the electoral system will be reformed so that as well as capturing people's votes, it will formally capture the public's preferences on a wide range of issues, including war. If the government were required by law to honour such preferences, then we could have real change. For many reasons, this would be a difficult thing to implement and would require some pretty dramatic changes to how the government operates, but it might be more democratic.written 8th Apr 2005
Joe replies: Two points.
1) Just because one does not vote does not mean that one does 'not do anything'. Some of the most politically active people I know have never voted. They write, they protest, they march. Wouldn't it be a better world if people actually did something rather than thinking that their responsibility extended as far as the ballot box and no further?
2) A man with a gun has captured your two children. Obviously dangerous and ready to shoot he shouts 'which of your two children do you want to die? Chose one!'
What do you do?
Of course the answer is that you refuse. How can anyone chose between the ones they love?
If the man then goes ahead and shoots one of them, how can you say that is the fault of the parent?
C'mon, wake up and smell the coffee! If I meet an iraqi, I'll say that not only did I not vote in this government, but I did everything I could to stop the war, and when that failed, everything I could to lessen the damage.
Yes, I am to blame, but only to the extent that the Burmese people are to blame for the excesses of its brutal dictatorship.written 8th Apr 2005
David N replies: TL: what I mean about you not being able to opt out is that you have to live with the elected government whether or not you were the one who elected them.
We do not live in a free country, insofar as a free country is one in which no one has the power to interfere in your private life. If we *were* free, then you would have no trouble ignoring the government. Unfortunately we are not.
Not voting is sort of an implicit approval of "the way things are". I think it was Terry Pratchett who said that all people really want, when it comes down to it, is for tomorrow to be pretty much the same as today.
Joe: read above what Sam said. If you loathe the war, then you probably know that the war is still going on. If you want the UK out of Iraq, why don't you vote for one of the parties who will withdraw the troops? Unless you do so, I don't see how you can claim to be doing everything you can to stop the [still ongoing] war.written 8th Apr 2005
joe replies: Because the anti war parties have other policies I don't agree with.
Also writing and protesting is more effective in most constituencies.
Jwritten 8th Apr 2005
Paul replies: > Not voting is sort of an implicit approval of "the way things are".
If that is the case, then voting is an unequivocally explicit approval of the way things are.written 8th Apr 2005
David N replies: > Also writing and protesting is more effective in most constituencies.
I see people say this, but I don't get it. What actual effect does it have? Surely it has only one aim and one effect: to change peoples' minds. The idea being that they will then vote for the party most conducive to the cause. Otherwise protesting is just an open call to arms for a violent revolution.
> If that is the case, then voting is an unequivocally explicit approval of the way things are.
Not if you vote for the opposition, unless by "the way things are" you mean the entire system of democracy. If you don't like that, you can always vote for a smaller-government party like UKIP.
In situations like our current one, where there is little discernable difference between the major parties, it seems to be a good strategy to vote out the incumbents, simply to shake things up.written 8th Apr 2005
SW replies: I disagree with most of the comments from people saying that we don't have a choice but to vote, and that we HAVE to choose one way or another. Wrong. We don't. And if enough people chose not to vote at all then the government which DOES get elected will have no legitimacy.
The comment by David N about having to choose one or another between a punch in the face or the stomach is ridiculous. I can choose neither; I can choose to walk away from the fight and either let someone else fight it if they care enough, or let the protagonists fight between themselves because they can find no-one who will stand still long enough to be hit.written 9th Apr 2005
Gavin replies: SW: No you cannot walk away. You have to pay taxes to someone.
This is of course the problem with using analogies - people tend to misunderstand them, perhaps on purpose. In the case of this anology, it's not voting that is the fight, but being governed by a particular party. You cannot walk away, unless you actually become a citizen of another country.
The argument that choosing legitimizes the punch is a valid one, but you're still going to get hit.written 11th Apr 2005
TL replies: "The argument that choosing legitimizes the punch is a valid one, but you're still going to get hit."
It appears that someone has finally understood the point I was making earlier.
(to take the dodgy analogy further) ..... If someone says that you are going to get either you left leg or your right leg sawn off, and that there is absolutely no opting out, then do you really think it is going to make the slightest difference to you whether you were given the choice of which leg to have cut off?
If there really was no choice in that situation and they were going to amputate anyway, then let them get on with it (as there is nothing I can do to stop it) but am I certainly not going to play their game and 'volunteer' a leg for removal and become complicit in the act. If you do go along with their plans then the outcome is the same; one leg still gets cut off, so you have absolutely nothing to gain by playing by their rules.
Many comments on this site have been saying that if you don't vote you don't have the right to complain. I say the opposite, if you voted in the people that are now doing what you disagree with, then it is YOU who have no right to complain, not the people who had nothing to do with putting them there.written 12th Apr 2005