Monday, January 21, 2013

Why your vote matters

Tomorrow Israel holds general elections for the Knesset (parliament). Like many democracies, Israel has seen a decline in voter turnout, and voters who care are trying to encourage others to vote.

There has even been some discussion of countries where voting is compulsory. I'm not sure whether this would be a good idea, or how it would be enforced. I think it is better to convince voters of the importance of casting their votes voluntarily.

I think people would be more likely to vote if they saw it as a duty rather than a right. While it is often perceived as a right, and therefore not compulsory, voting in a democracy is intended to ensure that the ruling body reflects the wishes of the people. The more people vote, the more closely the composition of the parties in the Knesset reflects the opinions of the citizens.

Israelis often talk about the civic duty to serve in the military, which is compulsory here, and complain about those who manage to avoid this duty. I would say that voting in the elections is another civic duty that people should take more seriously. It requires less time and effort than military service, and has an impact on more aspects of daily life.

Many people say they are not going to vote because none of the parties reflects their views. To this I would say that you don't have to agree with 100% of the positions of a party in order to vote for it. It's sufficient that you think this party is closer to your position than any other party, or that it's the least bad of the parties available.

Some people are frustrated because they think their vote is not going to have any impact among the 5,656,705 eligible voters. This is like saying that nothing you ever do matters because there are so many other people in the world. If everyone thought like this, nobody would vote. You can't leave this responsibility to others. I argue that everything you do matters in the total sum of human actions.

All of our actions matter and have some influence, large or small, on others around us and ultimately on the whole of humanity and the world. This is why I think everyone should be considerate and cooperative at all times. If you believe smiling at a stranger can somehow make the world a better place, even if only to a small extent, then you should believe that every vote matters.

Apathy and a feeling of disempowerment are attitudes that people inflict on themselves. Here you are given an opportunity to express the power that you are able to have within a democracy, and turning away from it can be harmful to your sense of controlling your destiny and belonging to a community.

Other people say they don't understand politics. I find this strange, since it is quite easy to grasp the positions of the different parties and what their policies would mean for different individuals and groups. Part of our civic duty is to learn about things happening in our country and community, and form opinions about these things.

I have voted in every Knesset and municipal election since I reached voting age (18). I think it matters in two ways. First, this is how I can influence, even in a small way, what happens in my country and community. Second, it matters to me to know that I consider myself a person who cares enough to express her views and make this contribution to her community.

I will vote tomorrow, and urge all eligible voters to do their civic duty and vote, both for the sake of our democracy being more representative, and for their own sense of who they are.

1 comment:

ariadne said...

Very well said, things are like this here too.AriadnefromGreece!