20 March, 2017

The Illusion of Representation

I've spoken out against democracy in the past, because I'm not fond of the notion of majoritarian rule. Yet a lot of people insist (not inaccurately) that we do not live in a pure democracy, but rather a representative democracy. But I have my problems with representative government, too.

[Although, none of these things are black-and-white. I'm not interested in knowing what it takes to run a country, and I think it's neither practical nor desirable to expect every citizen to be involved in that. I have faith that there are people out there with the proper knowledge and motivation, who are better suited to the task of running these things. I just think they should be chosen by, say, grade point average (in fields of relevance) as opposed to public opinion].

The reason I don't feel like voting represents my voice is because I'm voting for people who are not me. And as far as I can tell, they're not like me. The moment somebody I can really identify with runs for office with a conceivable chance to win, I'll become involved in the voting process. Until then, I think there are far less futile ways to have my voice heard.

Elections will occur, and politicians will be elected. With a single vote, I have little influence over that process. The majority will have their way with the system whether I'm involved or not. Instead of giving my tacit approval to everything the particular representative I might vote for thinks, says, and does - whether I actually agree with it or not - a much better way for my voice to be heard is to simply be present in society. And I know - as a hermit, that's not my strong suit. But with even just a little bit of effort, the returns are enormous in proportion to being present at the polling booth.

Being out there in society - both in the real world and online (because though you can say a lot of things about the internet, you can't deny that much of it involves people having social interactions) - letting people see who I am and what I'm interested in, and hearing what I have to say (in my particular case, this is more true on the internet) affirms that I am a part of this collective culture, and that I can't simply be swept under the rug.

And I know that politicians - representatives elected by the public (mostly) - will continue to be the ones in charge of making decisions on important matters. But only a collective consciousness can wield power in an election, and I have more influence over that consciousness by making people aware of my existence and what my concerns are, than I do participating in an anonymous poll.

So don't be a voting booth activist (somebody who campaigns futilely for change only when an election is imminent, and then criticizes people for not voting, as if that's the only and most effective form of activism [note: expressing this opinion makes you look stupid to people who are actually smart - celebrities are not exempt from this rule, either]). Make your voice count in the real world!

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