Why Vote?

So, I voted. I want to say obviously, but unfortunately it’s not that obvious. My wife and I went to a friends place for a birthday last night, and during the course of conversation it emerged that we were the only two in the room that had voted. People had varying reasons, some had moved and would have had to trek across Dublin to vote, others professed to not liking any candidate. One of my friends posited “But next year when there’s a referendum on gay marriage, who’s going to vote?” The entire room raised their hands in quick succession. He added “See, when it counts, we vote.”

In one way this makes me happy, as it shows the wonderful friends I have who have always insisted that everyone should be treated equally as long as they follow Wheaton’s Law. In another way it makes me despair, because it is evidence of the apathy that I see spreading through my generation, a generation that has seen successive governments doing nothing for them, and successive elections voting in the same people no matter how my generation votes. Unfortunately this mindset is only going to perpetuate this situation. The argument was made last night that these elections didn’t matter to us, that the issues were far removed and we wouldn’t be affected.

I can certainly see in the case of local elections, were local representatives really only have the power to influence planning, sanitation, roads and housing, where people can think it not important. But then these policies influence how much I’m paying for bin charges, how clean my area is, whether or not there will be enough houses should I ever be able to buy one. These are the things that aren’t important until they are, and if we let the same corrupt or self serving people occupy these positions, we may end up realising how much they affect us.

My good friend Lora O’Brien wrote a blog post about her own election decision. Unfortunately there were no local candidates she felt deserved her vote. Did this mean she didn’t vote? No, because while she disagreed with them all, she disagreed with some more strongly. If the choice is the best of a bad lot, make the choice. Else we may end up with the worst of a bad lot, with no one to blame but ourselves.

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