Look at the person you are thinking of voting for, what makes them not look, sound, or feel like any politician you’ve ever seen strutting and lying on your TV screens? What makes them so excel in virtues you don’t have that you should hand your power and autonomy over to them?
Would you hand the contents of your home so easily over to a burglar, or your family without a murmur to a kidnapper? Of course not! That would be ridiculous, yet it’s the same principle they don’t want us to see in the carnival of election time. The idea that we willingly handover all agency over our neighbourhoods, our welfare and our futures to professionals who excel in some of the worst human arts of manipulation, deceit, lies, and corruption is the stuff of nightmares and dark graphic novels. That they want to have power in the first place should be clue enough.
For all the lies that pervade election times, perhaps the biggest is that the ballot box makes us equal, that Rishi with his million-pound swimming pool and the shop worker with a paddling pool have the same rights and responsibilities as each other. Except that what we give Rishi is his for the duration, while we wait for our right to place an X in five years’ time on another piece of paper. And how precious that X is made to feel given that you probably only have 10 of them to use in your lifetime. 10 moments of feeling equal is your lifetime ration of influence or participation. In the process, its dull familiarity creates the attitude in most of us summed up as “I don’t believe in politics” or “what has politics got to do with me?” And that is exactly what they want us to feel. Distanced and docile. However always pushing back against this is our innate humanity and our struggle for a dignified existence.
Our own lives are social, economic, and emotional all of which combine to make our existence deeply political. We care massively about our friends, our loved ones, our neighbourhoods and environment, our welfare, and our futures. On a day-to-day level we demonstrate this actively with our colleagues, communities, and the kinds of social family we consciously choose to construct. We come together all the time in free, and yes, political association: to combat litter, to look after our vulnerable neighbours, to volunteer, to assist and to commune with others like us in football teams, choirs, for feeding people, hospital transports or knitting circles.
It’s often said that local elections affect us directly and are somehow different to the Parliamentary ones. Nice try, but even the most dedicated voter can recognise the army of ‘Mini Me’s’ starting to climb the greasy pole. Political parties, election campaigns whether national or local are not the community in action! They are the definition of our blindsided manipulation and exclusion from anything meaningful that looks like change. They want our participation in this staged event – it looks good for them. It encourages them and allows them to claim their greed is in our name. Look at the last time you used your X, what did it change? We feel sure if they thought it could really change anything they would make it illegal.
Wouldn’t it be great if these elections receive the contempt they deserve? Voting leaves them feeling empowered and subjects us to passivity at best, state sanctioned brutality at worst. Refusing to vote in favour of the community mobilisation is not apathy, on the contrary. Get active, join the election strike! If you vote you’ll have no right to complain.