Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Responsibility for governing is on all of us

As we approach the elections there is, as usual, no shortage of people who point out that they won't be voting and will provide a variety of reasons to justify their decision. I use the word 'justify' because I believe that the decision to not exercise your right to vote does need to be justified.

I am not in favour of compulsory voting, I don't believe that people should participate in the process solely because they have too but it does at least ensure that elected officials have a true mandate from the entire voting population. What I would prefer however is if we could adopt an approach to voting that made it socially unacceptable to abstain entirely from the process.

People often complain that there is no one to vote for who best represents their views as if they have some entitlement to such a thing. They don't. If you genuinely can't find anyone or any party that you can bear to vote for then the obligation to provide an alternative is yours.

We have the right to self governance through a democratic process but not the right to be governed. There is a crucial difference.

I'm not going to pretend that mounting effective opposition to the established parties is easy but it is always an option and I am thankful to live in a country that affords all it's citizens that right.

The odds are stacked heavily against new parties and Independents but only because they lack numbers which surely, in a democracy, is how it should be? If you want to govern, take your argument to the people and convince more of them to join you than the other guys.

More often than not, the big boys win but the fact they are challenged at all is what is important. That responsibility falls on us all and if you don't want it fine, but don't complain until you have provided an alternative.

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