Democracy - Why Should I Vote?
Nearly all modern Western-style democracies are representative democracies. Representative democracy means that elected officials represent a group of people, as opposed to direct democracy.
“Democracy dies in darkness”
The biggest threats to democracy come not from an outside force, but from the rot within. It is a fragile state of governance. Vulnerable to corruption and propaganda, it can easily derail into authoritarianism. By giving its citizens the right to abstain from voting, it also risks low turnouts which result in an undemocratic process.
“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”
Yet we enjoy enormous benefits from democracy. It protects the interests of its people, promotes equality and change, among other things. One needn’t look far to see how much freedom the citizens of some other, less democratic nations enjoy. From Muslims being detained in Chinese “re-education” camps, to LGBT people being “purged” in the Russian-controlled Chechnya. We must realise though, that by not participating in democracy or by being swayed by fake news and propaganda we put another nail into the coffin of the democratic process in our country.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
But what are the consequences of abstaining from voting? In the Brexit referendum, the voter turnout was 71,2%. Slightly over a half of those voted “leave”, but this group of people equals only 26,6% of the British population. This means that 16 million citizens decided on a thing that will affect 60 million people! To clarify, I am not attacking people that voted “leave” here but rather attempting to illustrate how much more powerful the vote of a single voter gets for every citizen that chooses to abstain. Moreover, the politicians will analyse which demographic voted and which did not and prioritise the group that did. Thus begins a vicious cycle, where the more you protest and say that no politician represents you, less such politicians will actually exist.
“Real change in society must start from individual initiative.”
It is incredibly easy to feel insignificant in the grand scheme of things. After all, there are more than 7 billion people alive today, what power could you possibly have? But this is looking at things from the top down and arguably not the best approach to thinking about it. You must see yourself as a node in a giant web of connections. In that network, you might have about 10-20 connections on which you have a strong effect (your closest friends and family) and about 50-100 normal connections, where your actions still influence those people, albeit in minor ways. Every action you take causes a ripple through this system. The stronger the action, the stronger the ripple and if you make sure to affect those closest to you strong enough, they will multiply it to other people and your ideas will spread like wildfire. Every person you sway “snowballs” your beliefs, amplifies them and spreads them forward. So lose the hopelessness, and be the change you want to see in the world. The odds of changing anything will always be greater than if you abstain from the process. And you are guaranteed not to experience any guilt or remorse when taking action!
Can you imagine how your life would look like if you lived in a third-world undemocratic country? Where war was always a possibility, the free market was restricted and people were imprisoned for opposing the government? If you #GiveAShit about democracy, #GiveAVote this May!
Two outlooks on democracy:
- “The rulers of society should be trained from birth to do the job. Whereas, a democracy favours not necessarily those who are good at governing, just those who are good at winning elections.” – Plato
- “The proper function of a representative government is not to actually lead the nation; it's not to be the experts on how to solve everybody's problems; it's to invest the experts with the moral authority to act.” – John Stuart Mill
Quotes by: The Washington Post, [disputed author], Dalai Lama; respectively and in that order.
0 Advantages and disadvantages of democracy
2 Uighur crackdown: 'I spent seven days of hell in Chinese camps'
3 Chechnya: two dead and dozens held in LGBT purge, say activists
4 Jordan Peterson on the impact you have on the world (10:47)