I didn’t vote in the last general election here. I want a political system where I get to vote on policies not people. So I decided I would only vote in referendums – because your vote really does decide something in a referendum. I have changed my mind on this. I still want a system where we are deciding on policies rather than just throwing in our ticket for who should get into the Dáil but I don’t have a clear vision of how such a system would work. What I can see clearly now is how foolish, how petulantly childish it is to fling away the little choice we have in the running of the country simply because I’m not happy with the current system. If I want to vote on policies then I should be trying to find out what policies each party is advocating/promising and then track what efforts they make to get those policies implemented and what obstacles they face in doing so. Rather than just stopping voting for politicians. Pretty obvious really. It may not be a great system but for the moment it’s all we’ve got.
I didn’t come to this conclusion because of anything that has happened in Ireland. To be honest the political parties here are pretty much of a muchness (i.e. there’s not that much difference between them). There aren’t any parties with extreme attitudes that I’m aware of – so it doesn’t seem to matter all that much if I vote or not. What made me reverse my decision on this was listening to other people saying that they couldn’t be bothered voting because they had zero faith in the political system there. Except these people were in countries where there are parties or politicians with extreme or even racist views. And they were in countries that are a lot more important in global terms than Ireland. (I love being from a country that isn’t really important in geo-political terms.) And as I listened to them thinking how could you possibly think your vote doesn’t matter?, what does it matter if there isn’t someone or some group that you enthusiastically support, are you not appalled by the stance of someone or some group there? I began to question my own decision to stop voting in elections and eventually I began to accept that this decision was completely wrong-headed.
So if you too are pretty dissatisfied with the political system in your country, let’s try and envision how a better, fairer, more participative system would work but in the meantime let’s not give up the little choice we have.
2016 – my year of discovering I’ve got it all wrong. And you know I’m actually having quite a good year.