The irony of a lazy argument is that the detractor has to expend their energy fleshing out the argument before they can dismantle it. Lucky then that I had this time spare from not bothering to walk to the voting office and back today!!
‘But, people died for your vote!!’…Or so goes the exclamation when I say I’m not interested in voting in local, mayoral or general elections. I hear this parroted to me at work, at home, in the pub, at work and at home. Maybe on one occasion a friend furrowed his brows and called me a Communist, but for the most part it’s definitely a fist thumping fulmination of ‘But they died…DIED for YOUR sins vote!!!’.
Mussolini bit his weenie, and now it doesn’t work
But did THEY, and if THEY did, was it for MY VOTE? The common assumption of who they might be is those who gave their lives in World War Two to rebuff and destroy the Fascist menace. A worthy cause, no doubt. But were they dying for MY VOTE – my once in a few years right to cast a vote upon whether I think the party of the rich, or the party of the former left wing former students should be richer in power? Of course they weren’t. If there is a homogenous motivation that could be ascribed to British soldiers in WW2 (and of course, there isn’t), it would be that they died for freedom – the freedom not to live under an odious tyranny.
But what of those who did die for the right to vote, both in World War Two and before, when lives were laid down for the rights of first poor men and then women to vote? And of those under repressive regimes around the world today who continue to die for the right to vote? Well, it seems to me that people die(d) for the right to vote, the right to have a choice to vote, and the right to exercise that vote if so desired. I don’t recall ever hearing that people died so that I MUST vote.
The reason why we enshrine ‘the-died-too-young’ in immemorial, objective ideas like ‘dying for a vote’ is because we fear our own dying for nothing, our own failure to have achieved in life, progress or posterity. Consequently we confer inalienable rights or concepts on those who have ‘died young’ so that they may have died ‘for something’. The right to vote, the right to express and live democratically is inalienable. The system or form that we cast that vote under is not. The system and form that says once every 5 years you get to choose between two of yesterday’s men is one of the poorest forms I can imagine. I don’t wish to reinforce this system by supporting it, tacitly or explicitly.
If I wanted to at this point I could go down the road of trying to interpret whether those who ‘died for my right to vote’ did so with today and tomorrow in mind. But this probably can’t be known and to tie their sacrifices to my beliefs would be an insult to their memory. So instead I’ll leave that to those who go on insisting that people ‘died for my vote’.