How often do people say that you should vote because people died fighting to get us the right? It’s trotted out like sage wisdom. It’s also nearly always a negative sentiment based on having really rubbish choices of candidates to choose between. It’s a duty, not just a right. Except it’s bullshit*. People didn’t die to get you the vote. People died fighting for democracy but unfortunately they won the vote instead. Democracy is about participating in making decisions that affect you. Nobody has won you that yet but we can change that.
It’s not surprising they saw the vote as a means to that end. After all, the rich and powerful had that right so surely if we all had it it would be progress. In the case of votes for women it was a matter of gender equality. I’m not going to criticise anyone for fighting to have the same rights as others. But whilst they gained the vote there were really other ideals at stake. The hope was always for greater freedom and public control over affairs. The fight for democracy was never meant to stop at the vote and we shouldn’t be made to feel guilty if we now get to the stage where we accept that the vote for representatives is largely a farce.
The fight for democracy is perpetual. It is everywhere. It is joined by the fight for equality and the hope of a better world. Maybe getting the vote is just a part of this process. Maybe realising the limitations of the vote is another part. With local and European elections coming up some people will no doubt feel the guilt of the past propelling them to the polling booth. It’s really just fine to not bother. Or you could opt to spoil your ballot paper. I’m writing “Class War” on mine. Whatever happens join the fight for democracy in everything you do.
*Obviously it’s possible that someone might have campaigned purely to get you the vote and died trying but they were misguided so who gives a fuck?