There’s a local radio commentator who is going to court today because he doesn’t vote. I’m not naming this man because he is a self-promoting blowhard and I refuse to give him oxygen. Let’s just call him X. Before and after each election (both Federal and State) this X holds forth on air on the evils of being forced to vote. X may believe that voting is wrong but I believe that not voting is breaking the law. Lobby to change the law by all means if you can get enough likeminded people to join you but pay the price if you break or flout it. There’s a fine for not voting in this country. X hasn’t voted for years and finally the law has called him on it.
I know that in some countries people are used to only voting if they have nothing better to do that day or perhaps if they don’t like the choices available to them. If I questioned them they would most likely tell me it’s their democratic right. But as I see it that leaves who rules the country open to lobby groups with their own agendas to decide. And my guess is a lot of energy and advertising money is expended on convincing the undecided and the unwilling to turn up to the polling booths.
The thing is that people who have been denied it in the past have fought long and hard for the right to vote. Now people like X say it should be his democratic right to decide whether or not to do it. Of course democracy doesn’t allow us to do anything we want just because we want to do it. There are restrictions and there are rules and there are laws. My personal view is that voting should be a privilege not a right. Many people aren’t really interested in examining the politics or the politicians; they will vote for the leader rather than the party. They would rather believe in the values spouted in an election year than examining what has been accomplished or not in the previous years.
I always think of Neville Shute when the topic of ‘to vote’ or ‘not to vote’ comes up. Neville Shute was a British born Australian novelist. Many of his books were made into movies and he is best known for ‘On the Beach’. But one of my favourites of his (not made into a movie) is ‘In the Wet’. It’s quite dated, but I love it because it is about second chances and reincarnation. Shute’s views of the ‘multiple vote’ comes to mind whenever I hear people like X spout on and on about their rights. In the world of ‘In the Wet’ everyone is allowed a ‘basic’ vote, but if you want more power, because voting is a power, you have to earn it. I’m not sure that I agree with some of the ways Shute wants people to earn those extra votes but I like the concept.