Does it matter if you vote?
Interesting debates always emerge when the question is posed as to whether or not citizens living in democracies should feel obligated to vote.
Most democracies were fought for. People who campaigned for freedom, self-governance and civil rights were jailed; some were murdered; some were beaten and many others were victimized. Some of these fights were actual wars.
In this context, we all should take the vote seriously. It is not a right, but a gift fought for by those who came before us.
As we all sit and evaluate the political parties and independent candidates who will offer for public office in the run-up to the next general election, we should make every effort to determine if there is someone on the ballot good enough to vote for.
Those who do not think there is anyone good enough to vote for should consider entering the race or the political process.
But if the ballot is filled with poor candidates, what should a voter do? Should voters feel compelled to vote?
No, they should not. Voting is an important part of the democratic process. However, voting should not be confused with democracy. Democracy is about self-governance. As citizens, we have a responsibility to do this everyday – not just every five years.
By working at a charity, providing assistance to the homeless, democracy is at work; by volunteering as a mentor at a school, democracy is at work; by raising an educated, hardworking law-abiding citizen, democracy is at work.
So for those who think there is no reasonable offering to vote for at the next general election, you should rest assured that there are many other ways to participate in the advancement and governance of The Bahamas.
A group of residents in a community can easily come together, approach their public school, and start an after-school literacy program for the children falling behind, for example.
Simple initiatives such as these, if done by many individuals or by many groups, can do much to change the lives of the disadvantaged and the soon-to-be lost.
Elections are important; voting is important. But if you think the mainstream political parties are pathetic and the independents are incompetent, do not distress. You can exercise your democratic power everyday by doing something to help build the community.
Jan 21, 2012