...Make politicians earn it.
“Disenfranchised, disillusioned, despondent” that’s Russell Brand in his interview with Jeremy Paxman that went viral last week. He’s describing a population grappling with a global and national political structure that he describes as destroying the planet, creating massive economic disparity and ignoring the needs of the people.
We won’t argue with Russell Brand’s diagnosis. We agree that “genuine changes and genuine alternatives” are needed.
But then we come to his call for a ballot boycott on the road to revolution, and that’s when we start feeling he’s doing more harm than good...Encouraging people not to vote sticks in our craw in the worst way.
“It's not that I'm not voting out of apathy. I'm not voting out of absolute indifference and weariness and exhaustion from the lies, treachery and deceit from the political class...”
Russell Brand isn't alone in his frustrations, when we talk to Canadians we hear the same story, many who've chosen not to vote do so not because they don't care, but because they care too much, quite literally find the political process so heartbreaking that they've disengaged as a means of protecting themselves from despair.
We have great sympathy for those that feel that voting expresses tacit complicity for a failing system. It takes a leap of faith to not give up and sometimes faith is in short supply...
But here’s the flip side:
If one of the problems is a concentration of power, then by not voting you concentrate power even further.
By not voting, you cease to exist for decision makers (it can get worse, Russell Brand).
If all those who disagree with the system stop voting then we soon reach a point where the minority viewpoint is elected by a majority of voters and holds an unassailable moral authority.
Right now governments in countries using non-proportional systems like Canada and the UK are more often than not elected by a minority of voters, and they stand on pretty shaky moral ground.
And shaky moral ground is right where you want those in power when you're trying to change the system.
So Russell Brand, we disagree. While our vote might not count, we do believe it makes a difference. It might only serve to keep our governments on shaky moral ground, but it could be more.
After all, in Canada, a significant majority supports adopting a proportional system.
How about instead of walking away from our vote, we instead united and made politicians earn our vote? Demand a commitment to introduce a proportional voting system in Canada – no commitment, no vote.
There would still be more work to be done looking at who votes, who pays for winning campaigns, how candidates are chosen etc., and that's before we get to stopping the destruction of the planet and economic disparity. But, our vote would count, and that's when we'll be able to use it to make a genuine difference.
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ps. To those people out there doing a lot of fabulous stuff to make the world a more equitable place, to those that have become engaged in spite of their disillusionment, to those for whom Russell Brand’s interview seemed like a nasty setback in their work to get others engaged...we think you're swell, keep it up!