“A vote is like a rifle; its usefulness depends upon the character of the user.” – Theodore Roosevelt
I have always had a feeling that I am taking a risky voyage in the sea of cynicism right from the time I could comprehend politics, the attitude of the folks around me as regards the participative democracy, and whether, if at all, we can make difference, if any. As election time is around the corner, I feel that the voyage is passing through the furious sea storm of cascading detachment towards civic responsibility, and the rising wave of cynical attitude that would drown the ship of democracy and consequently the nation. The person whom I miss the most during the times of Elections is my Father… When he was alive, he used to go to vote the first thing in morning and I used to walk up to the polling booth along with him and just enjoy the feel of elections till the time I turned 18 and post that I voted in every single elections while I stayed in India. After coming back from the US, I have again voted in the local election conducted and I have never refrained from my right to vote. My father used to take a leave on the results day and follow the news channels right from the morning and by afternoon used to make his own analysis of the newly formed government. To be honest, my first lessons in politics, elections, government were from my father. 2014 is one of the biggest elections of India which is working on a very high budget and the parties are coming up with various marketing and campaigning strategies and his insights would have surely been an added value for me…
With the Congress talking about reforms, BJP talking about the change and AAP which is a new party talking about corruption, each one is providing an exciting preview of what they wish to work on and what they wish to achieve in the next 5 years. I have made up my mind on the voting but a conversation between two of my well educated friends is the reason why I am inspired to write this article. The other reason being that, if through this article, I am successful in inspiring even a single individual to vote, I will have the hope that the winds of cynicism would pass away leading to the calming of the sea and the consequent safe voyage for the ship of democracy. Whilst I do read in the newspaper that there is a 60% turnaround in voting; at the cost of sounding pessimistic, I still ask the question as to what prevents the remaining 40% of the populace from exercising their franchise? I will reproduce the conversation between my two friends. For the sake of privacy, I would call them Hope and No-hope
Hope: Hey, so whom are you going to vote for?
No-Hope: Yeah right! As if I have nothing better to do…
Hope: What? What do you mean by that? I am sure that you have a lot of better things to do, but by no means is it the question of comparing voting with your other “so called other better tasks”. You talk about enrolling for the army; you would fight for your nation on the borders but you will not take two steps for selecting the right candidate who would ensure that we do not have to fight for our day to day needs! I recall the quote of Bill Vaughan who said that “A citizen of America will cross the ocean to fight for democracy, but won’t cross the street to vote in a national election.”
No-Hope: Oh really? And I recall a quote of Ambrose Bierce which goes like that “Vote: the instrument and symbol of a freeman’s power to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country.”Enough of your lecture! How will my one vote make a difference? Even if I do cast my vote, what is the guarantee that the rest of the uneducated lot would select the absolutely non-corrupt, non-biased, secular, honest and good candidate? What is the guarantee that such candidates are contesting elections at the first place? It is all about money and power, isn’t it? I am not fooling myself and I advise you that you stop fooling yourself as well!
Hope: You make a wreck of your country only when you do not exercise the right to vote wisely! Have you heard the quote of Aeschylus “In the lack of judgment great harm arises, but one vote cast can set right a house.” You may never know! That one vote might be yours! Your vote can just set the house right! You are concerned about the guarantee of the uneducated people casting their vote the right way! But after listening to you, I can guarantee you that educated people like you are worst then uneducated people. They at-least cast their vote. They are at-least attempting to make the process work. They are at-least trying to set the house right! You talk about the background of the candidate. Have you done your homework? Have you checked the list of the candidates standing from your area? Have you done their background check? Are you generalizing from your past experiences? People have given their lives to secure the right to vote! Here the right to vote is served to you on platter and you are throwing the plate away! This is one area of your life where after the fact of death that equality is guaranteed! Your weight carries equal weightage as that of a CEO or MD of an MNC! There is no discrimination whatsoever! So why not exercise? Why not try? You always complain about your rights being violated, about your rights being deprived! Here no body is depriving you of your rights to vote, except yourself, by not voting!
No-Hope: Okay fine! Let me think about it! I am burdened with too many issues at this stage to be concerned with one more!
Hope: Sure! I am happy this conversation has at-least got you thinking. But remember, if you take a cynical stand once again, and do not exercise your right in its true spirit, your issues are only going to multiply in the next five year and you will be left with nothing but regret about not casting your vote.
I was a silent spectator to this debate. I am sure there will be millions of parallel debates happening on this topic all throughout the country. I also wish that all these debates end with “HOPE” having the final say! GO AHEAD AND VOTE. AND REMEMBER THAT YOUR DUTY AS A CITIZEN DOES NOT END WITH VOTING, IT ONLY BEGINS!!! Your 1 vote will decide the future of the Country for the Next 5 YEARS!!!