Now before you go on, and think that this post is about trying to persuade some of you to vote, it is not. It’s about why I chose to vote, and choose to do so again. It would be far more simpler, and pleasurable not to vote; more so pleasurable, for a lazy bum that I am. But, as it turns out that I am still not ready to give up on democracy or the act of voting, yet.
I turned 18 about 16 years, and some change ago. And, in that particular year I was thrilled to be able to have my vote counted, and have my left hand’s index finger marked with an ink blot. At that time, I may have been a little more narcissistic than usual, thinking that the side I voted for would definitely be the winning side. Turns out that they didn’t win the elections, at that time. Bummer.
Though that election, all those years ago, was a municipal one. Also losing, it didn’t do anything that would help with the ego-deflation I’d felt when the results of the elections were announced by the EC. Even then, those were simpler times. I had no clue of policies or what was promised to the people or who were the people or who were the actual politicians involved or what was happening with the politics in the city or what was happening w.r.t politics in the country, on the whole. I was clueless, and my curiosity wasn’t really into civics, and politics much, at that point in time. You know, at 18, the hormones are all over the place.
After, and during the elections I’d heard others around me, young, and not so young, talk about which side they’d vote for, had voted for, and why, etc. Many of my peers were voting more for sporting that ink blot than to actually realize their own rights that our finally-won democracy provided for us.
Where as I was just excited to vote. Voting, to me, was akin to a right of passage to becoming an adult; also, that I was actually of the mindset that the side I voted for would definitely win. Why? Because, the world is round.
Instead, my vote, the whole excersize of casting the said vote, and the excitement that had prompted me to vote then, all of those things had quickly vanished into thin air. It wasn’t such a big deal though. It was more of a ‘oh, well, never gonna vote again’ kind of a deal. And so, about the time until I turned 24, I never voted again; always validating my actions of not exercising the only thing that gave me, as an individual, a strong power in the second largest populated country in the world, as futile.
When I did started voting again, I had become a little more humble, and a lot more curious about civics, and politics. Though, I was guilty of still not venturing the extra mile, and reading more about the then current policies, promises, and politicians. From 24 onwards, I just voted for a side. Always ready to be disappointed; irrespective of who won the elections.
The more I exercised my voting rights, the more things seemed futile. And, it wasn’t really a good feeling at all. No matter the promises, policies, and politicians chosen, nothing really changed with regard to infrastructure, quality of life, economics, scandals, scams, and what may have you. Nothing changed.
Today, I casted my vote again. And still, Nothing has much changed, with respect to that feeling of futility. That feeling, it still exists, and is as pervasive as ever. For a brief moment, an extremely small moment in time, we are given the power to choose a representative from a crowd. And through the whole exercise of voting, she may be elected. Except the fact that no matter who gets elected, year after year, the country’s infrastructure is stretched to its limits, streets are crowded, crime is up, taxation is the probably the highest it has ever been, farmers are still committing suicide, value for life doesn’t really exist, quality of life is as poor as it has ever been, things are as expensive as they’ve ever been, the ever so pervasive red tape is evidently everywhere, we’re spending upwards of 3000 crore rupees (~448,045,402 USD at today’s exchange rate) of the tax payers money for a statue in the middle of the Arabian Sea as a tribute, when promises like paying a small sum to expectant mothers is being pushed down the pile. This after the government, apparently, is holding on to a lot of black money, which has been seized in the recent demonetization exercise that the current government opted for. Not to mention the fact that most elected officials aren’t even aware of other worldly issues like global warming. There’s absolutely no transparency anywhere, with respect to taxations, voting polls, processes employed, etc.
In other words, I do not have any power. I never had it. Though, we do. Together, we do. We wield it.
Why Did I Vote Today?
I casted my vote today, again.
I won’t lie. I have asked myself that one question over, and over again. And, I have had to always, falsely validate my own actions of casting votes, to my own self; time, and again. I’ve been actively making a fool of myself or feel that I’ve, every time that I’ve voted. Why? Why don’t I just not vote anymore? Even if I don’t come across as one, I am one of those hopeful romantics, who cannot even begin to bring about change, because he lacks the resources to do so. I am warm, and fuzzy that way. Though if you call me out on that, I’d change into something much colder.
I am ready to readily believe in the people of this place that I hail from. Readily believe that one day, it will all count to something more than this. That one day, we would’ve had enough, and then the ‘futility of it all’ will pay off, in some manner. Maybe not today, maybe not the next year, maybe after I am six feet under, but someday.
Yesterday, sitting across frivolewis, I felt the need to be persuaded again, to cast my vote today. So, instead of questioning myself again, and answering why I should vote, I asked him. I asked him, why shouldn’t we give up now? Isn’t it time to give up?
He put things in perspective again, for me. He said, today we vote, because we need to show those who would take us for granted that we still care, even when we realize the futility of it all, even then we just need to show up, and push the ballot button. That way, we can still rebel. By voting, we can still shout a silent cry for change, and then hope that something changes for the better, for all of us.
That vote we cast, it’s a slim tether of hope for all of us. And, that is its true power. And, this is the power we wield. It is also something we take for granted, like so many other things. I know I’ve, on so many occasions.