I Do Not Vote, and I’m Not an Anti-National

In the movie ‘My name is Khan’, Shah Rukh Khan made it clear, ‘My name is Khan, and I’m not a terrorist’. The dialogue created quite a stir and was obviously recreated on social media according to various situations. Following from this, the title of this article has been framed to harp on an important point. As most of you might have figured, I do not vote. And as an implied thought, I do not have a voter ID either. But the use of the phrase anti-national is not derived from the contemporary context, but rather borrows from a more classical context.

In my view, the best thing to happen to India, was about 70 years ago when the British ended their reign of colonialism and gave us freedom. But come to think of it now, some would question that decision. Nevertheless, that topic is up for debate for some other time. With freedom, came the gift  of democracy and with democracy came the gift of suffrage, the right to vote. Voting remains the single-most important aspect of a democracy. Or should that be rephrased as ‘of a proper functioning, accountable and responsible’ democracy?
Voting just for the sake of voting is a terrible idea that should be discouraged, but the voting system is very important and should be utilized by all those who have enough of a grasp of the candidates to be able to cast a vote responsibly. It may not feel like a significant voice but it is, for the most part, the only one that we have regarding our leaders.

However, the sad truth is that there are more actors than leaders in the political arena. I would rather spend my money on movies to watch actors. Even if their performance is bad, and although I’ve wasted money, I can still earn more money. A vote, I feel, is too precious to be wasted on political actors. Moreover, I can’t earn my vote back. I can only vote again after the end of term for a government. Some movies are bad and some movies are good, unlike the politics in India. Even though you have a choice, your choice is not choosing the best among many, but choosing the least worse among the bad.

Further, I’m not hypocritical. I reached my official age for voting four years ago. While this is a very small duration, I’m not stranger to existing debates. Following 70 years of Independence I see very little of my country to be proud of. Voting is a voice, an opinion to state what you want to see in your country. Do not complain if the government party that was elected comes out wrong, Because you made a choice to not vote. You chose to not have a say. Because you didn’t have a say you didn’t participate and you have no right to sit there and complain. People can complain about a government or the opposition only if they vote. I don’t blame or complain about the government, as I don’t vote. I only blame the system.

Both India’s democratic system and state secure their legitimacy through regular free and fair elections that the EC is responsible for conducting. While we know that political control over the bureaucracy has limits, expansion of institutional power is not well understood, and the set of internal and external incentives that shape the behavior of these institutions remain under-theorized. The idea of a free and fair election is paradoxical. The idea of power and money is real. This is what most parties bank on. Voting shouldn’t be done just because one has the right to exercise it. It’s like the police having a gun. Cops don’t go murdering people around just because they have a gun. The police, just as people in a democracy, are responsible and accountable to the law, not outlaws like the mafia who can do anything they wish to.

A decision not to vote is extremely personal. Just like people are motivated to vote using a certain propaganda, non-voters have their inhibitions to not vote. In my opinion, I feel right now no one deserves a precious vote just to acquire power. Maybe someone worthy of the power he/she aspires for would surface in reality somewhere down the line.

Picture Credits: Ethelo Decisions

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