Sunday, 25 April 2010

On Political Apathy

A Political Pile-up

Firstly, I promise I will never write about politics ever again - it's not something I fully understand but humour me, just this once...

I'm going to admit something. Something I'm ashamed of. I've never voted, despite being eligible for nearly ten years. Elections - general, local and European - have passed by without me batting an eyelid.
I think this is partly because I've never taken the time to read about politics, or to really think about it for that matter, and assumed that no vote is better than a misinformed one. Had I familiarised myself with the parties and their arguments, I may have been able to motivate myself to vote. In truth, I suppose it was laziness.

My laziness was caused, in part, by a belief that one single vote can't really make a difference. When the press and media are throwing their weight behind the various candidates, flinging sleaze and scandal at one another like a giant political food fight, who's going to hear me over that? That's who the political parties want on side - I'm just a drop in the ocean compared to that.

I have also read (another) very interesting article today which mentions a group of politically engaged women, actively and successfully campaigning against the slave trade in the 1830s, who had little interest in acquiring the vote for themselves. "They took it for granted that politics was a game played by prosperous men for their own interests". I cannot stress how relevant I think this is today. I think this is the principal cause of my political apathy. I've considered politicians a class unto themselves - they've recently demonstrated how ridiculously out of touch they are with the rest of the population, and how fantastically good they are looking after themselves. In my opinion, it's not surprising that so many people feel completely detached from politics, as insular and behind-closed-doors as the British system is. It's like walking past a party you're not invited to - you can see people having fun, but you can't join in.

However, this isn't a rant about the system - this time round I actually feel slightly optimistic. I do plan to vote this year, and I do sense things changing. Perhaps I'm being naive. Perhaps this is what most people feel when they turn 18 and vote for the first time, but for the first time in my life I find myself interested in politics. It's taken a recession, the expenses scandal and a cloud of volcanic ash but the political animal inside me has finally woken up. I don't believe I'll make a difference, but I'm going to give it a shot - at least then I'll have a right to moan, even if it doesn't go my way.


  1. I have never ever voted too because I was too lazy to register. But I became a registered voter last year. Only because I needed an extra valid ID. So there. I'll probably vote this year. Our election is in May. Though I still haven't made a decision on who to vote. But you've made a good point. So I'll vote.

  2. As someone who's unable to vote (I've never lived in my country of origin during election times and they're not clever/organised/efficient enough for overseas ballot yet), I envy those who can.

    I'm a huge believer in exercising your basic right to vote. A lot of young people I work with are apathetic and yes, frankly can't be arsed dealing with the mountain of boredom that is politics. But it's not some disconnected thing you're obliged to deal with. It's your life. The problem is that so many young people come into it not caring that it becomes a burden- which is a tragedy, because it hands the power to those in positions to make a difference and instead of being accountable to those that put them in those positions, they get there by default.

    I don't mean to sound as though I'm preaching, it's kind of my job to get people politically involved and advocate for themselves and this is something I feel strongly about. Yes, 1 vote doesn't count. But 5 do. And that's 5 singular votes; and that could, in theory, sway it in any direction.

    I'm glad you're voting though- it's empowering, I'm sure. :) x

  3. @ Gnetch - thank you, I feel like I've done my good deed for the day, I've convinced Gnetch to vote - my work here is done. Maybe I should be a politician?

    @ epitaphforaheart - you don't sound as though you're preaching at all! It was a really interesting comment and what you say is too true!