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To opt out of politics is to opt out of life April 13, 2010

Posted by Phil Groom in Current Affairs.
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6 comments

In fact, I’ll go further than that: opting out of politics is not an option, it’s capitulation. To opt out is to cop out, to surrender, to abdicate responsibility, to give in.

But don’t worry: this isn’t going to degenerate into one of those terminally boring posts that tries to emotionally blackmail you into voting. I myself may or may not vote in the forthcoming election, but either way I most certainly won’t be signing up to Premier Christian Radio’s ‘Promise to Vote‘ campaign or supporting any of the other coercive voting campaigns. Because politics is about far more than voting: voting is merely the tip of the iceberg — a tip that can, of course, become a tipping point, but which can also become a tripping point, a point at which people can say, “That’s it, job done, duty completed.” Cast your vote and walk away — and that, I think, is more of an abdication than taking a principled stand by refusing to vote when there is no candidate worthy of the vote.

And that’s part — only part, please note — of the problem I’m up against: I’ve yet to see anything from any of the parties that makes me want to vote for them — especially when I know full well that whoever I vote for, the party that finally gains control of our supposedly democratic country will do so not with a majority but with the biggest minority. That’s not democracy, it’s certainly not a mandate from the people when most of us didn’t want that party in power, and I have no desire to support such an anti-democratic system. Suppose that I do vote and that the party I vote for wins against the wishes of the majority: what does that make me if not a co-dictator along with the party?

To me, a far more important principle than voting is freedom. That, I think, is what true democracy and politics are about: freedom; and that freedom must necessarily include the right to withhold your vote as much as to bestow it. Then afterwards, after the fuss has died down, to get back to business by standing up to whichever bunch of clowns gain this country’s inglorious crown.

Don’t be fooled: there’s more to politics and democracy than the ballot box. It’s not how we vote or who we vote for that counts: it’s how we live in between times. Don’t vote with the ballot box: vote with your life.

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