Missing Vote

From an early age we are taught that voting is a healthy part of a lived democracy. Every few years the populace is asked for their opinion, our leaders take their mandates and execute the will of the people. Voting interpolates a culture of debate and discussion, we are told.

Unfortunately the truth is that voting has gradually made it worse by legitimising bad politicians, bad policies and destructive forces. This has occurred because turnout is considered to be the legitimisation of elections and not the fulfilment of promises made by politicians. As long as turnout is high enough, politicians feel they have been legitimised.

Elections are always moments of suspense with our various media outlets conjecturing over possible outcomes. Nowadays mainly between two major parties and concerning the same policies delivered by a different set of promises. One party promises to tax the rich, the other promises to lower taxes for the poor and in the end, the middle class is taxed into poverty, which neither would ever have promised.

Ironically many Western democracies have degraded into two party systems: left and right battling for the centre. Strangely a two party system is merely one party away from a one party system. The West has long debased the one party communist systems, ironically the West is now is itself barely one party away.

Aristotle described democracy as a degradation of a constitutional government with the dummest leading the populace. Unfortunately in many western democracies this has now occurred. There are exceptions but these are rapidly disappearing under global pressure on the political class to offer no alternatives to the status quo.

The central issue of elections is that the political class selects the candidates for the populace, the populace votes and provided the turnout is high enough, all is well. The populace is given a choice between bad, worst and the catastrophic in terms of candidate quality. Since the populace has been told this is the nature of democracies, they sheepishly go to the ballot boxes and cast their votes.

By voting, regardless for whom, the populace has legitimised the collection of bad candidates, bad policies and destructive forces. The political class has no need to choose the best candidates. Herein lies the issue Western democracies face: the best candidates have no interest in politics as they have recognised that politics has no influence, no vision and no strategies for the future.

Politicians are no longer relevant, big business is the decision maker, lobby groups and interest groups set the agenda for the political class. Politicians become the spin-makers and happy-faced promise-makers creating fake hopes for the future, and lately not even that.

By not voting, one is not legitimising these pretenders and the system which brings them to power. Politicians are pretenders, pretending that they have a choice, pretending they know what they are doing and pretending they are helping the populace.

It does not matter whether one votes for the others, by voting you are engaging in a circus of clowns. Provided the turnout is high enough politicians can continue to claim relevance, regardless of who was voted in. The system has been confirmed to work since the turnout was high enough.

If the entire populace would stop voting, then eventually the political class would become aware that they their sham was no longer working. The populace has made use of their freedom of silent protest, a protest that requires no coordination, singly determination is needed. Determination to do something that goes against our indoctrination on what makes democracies work.

The knee-jerk reaction of the political class would be to make voting compulsory, which presently is the case in certain countries. This forces people to cast invalid votes as protest. Ironically little is said about invalid votes in countries with compulsory voting, even in those countries, all that counts is turnout.

Forcing voters to the ballet box at the tip of a financial gun is not democratic. No true democracy would force their citizenry to vote unless the democracy feared its legitimacy.


Thankful there are always alternatives, none of which will ever be applied, at least politicians cannot postulate that there are no alternatives. However since these alternatives are to the detriment of politicians, they will never be applied.

1) Allow the populace to nominate their own candidates.

This was done in ancient Greece but in modern Western democracies we are incapable of emulating this. It would be as simple as a few weeks before an election, the populace would be given the opportunity to nominate candidates whom they would like to see as leaders. These candidates would be discussed, debated and nominated, after which the elections would take place.

Existing politicians would do their upmost to discredited nominated candidates, one would have to ignore bias on the part of self-interested politicians. In ancient Greece politicians could be expelled for a limited time if the populace felt they had become too corrupt or biased.

2) Any election with a turnout below 50% must be repeated however all candidates must be replaced.

No candidate would be allowed to stand again if the election turnout was below 50% - no exceptions. Turnout takes into account invalid votes, meaning that invalid votes plus non-voters divided by the number of registered voters defines the turnout. A turnout below 50% is a clear indication that the candidates are not relevant for the voters.

Since the candidates could not motivate the populace to come out and vote, they need to be replaced for more relevant candidates. These basic performance measures are applied in every company: employees have standards to meet and if they do not manage to meet them, then there are consequences. Politicians should be held to similar standards and if that happens to be turnout, then so be it. Preferably it would be the promises fulfilled by politicians but promises made by politicians have lost all their significance.

3) Those who do not have desires to lead should become leaders.

Always be suspicions of those who desire to lead you. Those that want to lead, tend to be those that know what personal benefits await them. A true altruist does not wish to be in the spotlight of leadership.

Candidates from other professions and not only the political or financial class. The political class believes that they have a unique right to lead the populace thereby every profession has their leaders, leading is not something unique to the political class.

A further approach would be to vote for people with proven empathy for others. Nurses, medical doctors, carers, there are many professions that require empathy for other people, these are the people that should be leading us.

Philosophers have been discussing this for the good part of two thousand years and have even suggested that philosophers would make the best leaders. Again, even philosophers would be a better lot to lead us than egoistical politicians.

4) Globally remove compulsory voting.

Compulsory voting exists in several countries, that should be removed. Forcing the populace to vote takes away a fundamental freedom, the freedom of silent protest.

5) No candidate shall be over the age limit: the plus-ten rule.

To avoid being ruled by grey-haired-white-old-men with ancient world views, candidates cannot be more than ten years older than the average age of the populace. The maximum age of any candidate is the average age of the populace (minus the political class) plus ten. No excuses, no workarounds.

Additionally retirement ages that are applied to the populace will be enforced on politicians. Meaning if a country has 65 years of age as retirement age for its workers, then a politician must retire with 65. Politicians, judges and clergy represent groups of workers that never retire. Why? Because they have it far too good. A garbage collector does not have this luxury, why should a politician have this luxury? As for judges and clergy, they too should be forced to retire but this is article concerns politicians.

Post ballot-box democracies

We might potentially be destined for an age where voting becomes utterly irrelevant as the global corporations become larger and engulf, with their advertising and products, more and more of our public spaces. Their lobbying of governments will then lead to mere rubbering stamping of policies written by those corporations and their lobby groups. Our elected leaders are chosen by the media corporations (be it print, online or social) which influence the populace into voting for them.

Our voting would be reduced to our consumption: which products we purchase will influence government policies. As the large corporation are boycotted by consumer protest actions, their world views might be altered. Two forms of consumer protest would then exist: buycott or boycott, the former being purchasing specific products from specific corporations while the latter would be non-purchasing of products.

Again the rich would obtain a stronger voice in a consumption-orientated democracy and the poor would face disenfranchisement. Until the populace comes to realise that one does not need much to survive and that one can do without many products that one believes (or has been told by advertising) will make one happy.

Poverty and ascetic values could bring change to a system that is uniquely depended on consumption.

[Part of the Taboo Tiles series.]