Does voting only protect the status-quo?

On social media there has been a surge in people posting links urging others to register to vote. Operation Black Vote has also been running a campaign to encourage ethnic minorities to register and vote. The idea is that the vote is a crucial tool in individual empowerment that ensures our voice is heard within the context of democracy.

When we think of democracy and democratic values the right to vote is probably the first thing that springs to mind. Their is an almost unwavering faith in the idea that putting a piece of paper in a ballot box every five years means we live in the ultimate free society.

Anyone who advocates not voting is instantly vilified and we often here people say ‘if you don’t vote you don’t have the right to complain.’ This again reinforces the idea that voting is a powerful tool to bring about change. Not voting is seen as lazy, petulant and ineffective.

Russel Brand, for instance, famously declared ‘I’ve never voted, I never will.’ Brand went on to say “It is not that I am not voting out of apathy. I am not voting out of absolute indifference and weariness and exhaustion from the lies, treachery and deceit of the political class that has been going on for generations.” Yet in spite of the fact he followed up with this perfectly reasonable explanation he was set upon from all angles by political commentators and politicians.

Jeremy Paxman also attacked Brand on Newsnight for his refusal to vote. ‘People get power by being voted in’ said Paxman, ‘In a democracy that is how it works’.

Referendum EU Associatieverdrag Oekraïne

The above graphic gives you a rough idea about the finances involved in winning an election. The Conservatives spent the most (double Labour) and won. How could a normal person on the street ever compete? They can’t. This idea of trying to change the system through the political institutions that already exist is nothing short of fantasy.

Labour and the Conservatives have shared power in the UK since 1922, that’s almost 100 years where two parties have ruled exclusively. To a large extent this is because of their financial muscle, which has only increased as a result of their longevity. Such a consolidation of power between the two major parties is hardly indicative of a thriving democracy.

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