‘Don’t vote, it only encourages them.’ Heard the first time, it was mildly amusing. Repeated ad nauseam as though it were a political manifesto, it irritates. ‘Remember, no matter who you vote for, the government always gets in.’ Again, first time round it has a certain teenage charm, after which it is merely tiresome and patronizing. ‘Voting is not an act of political freedom: it is an act of political conformity.’ This one was not even mildly funny; it was from the start tired and slothful.
‘Voters decide nothing; people who count votes decide everything.’ -is, apparently, comes from a certain Joseph Stalin. And then there’s this one, ‘If voting made a difference, it would be illegal.’ -is is getting most uncomfortable. Is this not part of the reason we value democracy, the fact of its suppression in so many other countries? It is sadly true, for many millions of people; but not for us.
Like it or not (and I love a General Election) we shall have one some time this year. It could be March, which would be fun as it would take us all by surprise, but it will most probably be 6 May. Adolescent rebels, anarcho-syndicalists, even juvenile museum-pieces such as Trotskyists and Maoists, and all the other angst-ridden anti-democrats are fine by me. they add a bit of colour, to temper the earnestness, and I am sorry that the Don’t Vote Party is American and not English.
But grown men and women trying to outbid their teenage children in expressions of exaggerated cynicism is a wearying prospect. It has almost grown to be an expectation, a five-yearly competition to prove we can each be more cynical than the next person. Silly, lazy, boring. And wrong! So stop it.