I have just trudged through a state by-election, in Newcastle. I discovered that many people are totally apathetic about politics, many act like anyone who is holding a political pamphlet just came down with a case of ebola. After a while I began to hear all the same old tired excuses from voters, there wasn’t much behind how they felt just a thin veneer of an opinion.
The most common excuses I heard include:
1. They are all the same as each other, why bother
The crying call of the apathetic voter, they are right but in only a superficial way. Pry further and discover that these voters don’t know the difference between left and right politics, nor any of the major issues, party policies or why exactly they feel this way.
Often I feel as if they have overheard someone they know in a conversation who was exasperated with politics and felt like giving up, and just took on that opinion without ever actually having to form an opinion of their own.
2. This is a safe seat, my vote won’t count or make any difference so why bother
It’s just a monumentally stupid opinion, but many have it, the idea that their vote won’t count because the seat is held by the same party every year, they usually see minor parties as a ‘wasted vote’.
They seem to express it in a Marvin the robot type way, the world, democracy everything is a giant effort to take part in, and they can’t be bothered.
I am not sure how these people end up voting, maybe they pick the party opposite or put in a informal vote, either way the idea that their vote doesn’t count just astounds me:- if they have a problem with the party that keeps winning that seat, show it by voting for someone else, isn’t it obvious?
3. If I vote for party (a) then that will bring more money to our city, because we always vote in party (b)
So that’s all you care about, a bit of pork barreling for your area?
This is similar to 2, but held by a different sort of person; usually it’s a contrary conservative, who is bitter that the left always wins their seat.
These people have this odd idea that swinging seats bring in all the goods for that seat, they think by gaming it they can change their city or state.
However imagine if every voter thinks they live in a ‘safe‘ seat and starts voting like this, does every safe seat get extra funding? The outcome is that instead of one or two screaming children asking for money there will be many and not enough to feed them all.
But come to think of it, when you vote like this you get exactly what you asked for: candidates that only care about money, so don’t be surprised when they have to resign for accepting bribes off developers.
Hell if Adolf Hitler was the candidate and threw a bit of money around I am pretty sure these people would of voted for him.
4. I am not qualified to vote, I don’t know enough
This is the domain of younger timid people, mostly quite intelligent they seem to have the Russell Brand disdain to voting, they have this opinion and don’t even vote at all.
Funnily their opinion is educated, they are being modest. However we are not living in the age of modesty just take a look around.
People who you don’t like and are way dumber and ignorant than you are having their voice heard…you are WAY smarter than them…so just vote, you don’t need a degree in politics to take part in the system.
5. I don’t know anything about politics, help!!!
This is similar to ‘I am not qualified to vote ‘ but just slightly different and is representative of a huge chunk of the population who seem to want to care but have literally no connection to politics in their life.
This opinion reminds me of people at university who should of studied the night before a big test, but couldn’t be arsed and start whinging just hours before the exam.
The papers are packed full of information for you before elections, you have the internet and there is basically no excuse why you don’t have any idea, just put in a little bit of time and read the paper watch television and pick a party that best represents how you feel about the world.
6. I don’t care, I don’t vote …go away
A surprising number of people are like this, and are proud of it, the question is can they afford to be.
These people are not Russel brand, they are not writing an anarchist manifesto, they are not planning to pull democracy apart and replace it with something better, nor have they had anything taken away from them to force them to rethink their position. They treat election day as a chore, and electioneers as spam and a giant pain in the arse.
They just, don’t care, that’s it, but here lies the existential question of democracy in your right NOT to care, you are extinguishing your right to care and potentially you will be told what to care about and you will have no say in it.
These people concern me the most, the more of these the more chance we have of heading into an idiocracy or worse.