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Democracy Is Not A Right It Is An Obligation

Updated on September 3, 2015
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Jeff Johnston is a medieval reenactor and avid history fan. He is also the publisher at Living History Publications.

Do You Vote?

Do you vote in every election you are eligible to vote in?

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Why Should We Vote In Elections

I am a fan of politics, so much so I watch CPAC (the channel that broadcasts the goings on in the House of Commons here in Canada) whenever I can. This is a habit that most people find perplexing, but I have to be honest, what I find perplexing the total and absolute apathy voters have, here in Canada, in the USA, and everywhere that holds elections. People have no problems complaining about how inept their political leaders are but they can't get off their rears to go out and vote. I think it bears reminding people that voting for your government representatives is not a right, it is a privilege and a responsibility.

Larry J. Sabato, Pendulum Swing

Every election is determined by the people who show up.

Voter Apathy

What is it?

Usually when I launch into this rant, which I do on many occasions, especially when there is an upcoming election, I inevitably get asked "What is voter apathy?" While it may at first seem obvious, the apathy of the voters, is a little more complex. Voters simply don't care, or so it seems. They whine and moan all throughout the term, but when the chance comes to change the government simply by filling out a little slip of paper they go limp and throw up their hands in "frustration".

What Causes Voter Apathy

Ask 100 people the cause of voter apathy and you'll get 1000 reasons. In my opinion voter apathy is caused more by voter laziness than anything else, but then I am vicious bully (or so some would claim).

Some will cite that its because its hard to see how a vote matters, but every vote counts. Some will claim all politicians lie so why trust any of them, but then don't vote for liars, and if there are only liars run for office yourself or work to get someone nominated that isn't a liar. Some will claim a lack of knowledge, but then with this being the information age finding out information about a candidate is as easy as twitching your fingers on the keyboard in a set pattern to type in a search on Google. Some will claim all politicians are corrupt, but this is just as weak a response as they all lie, and for the same reasons.

In the end it all boils down to not trusting your candidates, but this can be fixed, democracy is all about participation, the only way to change the system is to participate in the system, ignoring the problem only makes it worse. Failure to participate in the system leaves the system in control of those who will make the effort, if those people are corrupt they are not the ones to blame but rather all those who refuse to participate are.

V for Vendetta

People should not be afraid of their governments governments should be afraid of their people?

Democracy is NOT a Right

Vote and be heard, or don't and be ignored

While many countries recognize the right to vote as a fundamental human right the plain and simple fact is it is not. The fact is the only fundamental human right that exists is simply the right to exist, everything else must be earned. Sounds a little callous for an admitted socialist such as myself, but its true. There is something that can be done to maintain the government granted privilege of voting, and that is simply to participate and cast a vote.

In any democratic based government the government has granted the privilege of voting to the eligible voters, it is then the voters duty to exercise this privilege or risk losing it.

Now I hate to invoke Goodwins Law, but i feel it important to point out that Hitler was elected democratically in Germany, sure he went on to then enact a most terrible campaign of terror to cement his post, but he was the democratically elected leader of Germany as set out by their system. He's not the only dictator that was elected Mussolini was also elected democratically.

I will probably get flak for that, as many people point out that Hitler lost the election in 1932 to Hindenburg, and indeed he did, but the 1933 election he did indeed win, yes it was with only 1/3 the vote, but with 14 different parties 33% of the vote was enough to garner him enough seats to be named Chancellor. As for Mussolini, many people argue that he gained power by threatening to march on Rome, however he did still win the election even leaving out the rule changes he forced in, it was this threat that gave him the majority of seats, but even without that he was the democratically elected leader albeit of a minority government.

Many dictoratorships are put in place through a democratic system, once in place they are difficult to remove.

Should the government consider some sort of compulsory voting to try and improve voter turn out?

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Compulsory Voting?

Compulsory voting is a system of forcing those who qualify to vote to vote. For instance some places put a fine on failing to vote.

While compulsory voting may seem good on the surface, opponents claim that it leads to people voting without bothering to educate themselves. Is compulsory voting a good idea? Hard to say what the results would be, but it would be nice to see more people voting.

Thomas Jefferson

When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.

All Politicians are Corrupt

So Time To Put a Stop To The Professional Politicians

I was listening to the radio the other day and they were discussing the local mayor who is up on fraud charges for paying for his son's wedding with taxpayers money while he was a federal member of parliament. A caller called in urging everyone to just back off because the Mayor had a job to do and couldn't do it with all the complaining, he then continued to say that this particular Mayor's only distinction was that he got caught, all politicians are corrupt and therefore we shouldn't be surprised and outraged when one gets caught.

This sentiment is the worst sort of voter apathy. It is laziness of the utmost degree. Of course we should be outraged when politicians break our trust, and we should demand they answer for their crimes to the FULL extent of the law. Too often politicians do get caught bending the rules if not outright breaking them, but the courts and the people do little or nothing. The only way to change this is to get involved to throw out the bastards and replace them with someone who deserves our respect. Now some may argue that since we elected him he deserves our respect due to the position, however respect is earned, no position guarantees respect, especially not an elected position.

The public doesn't trust politicians because politicians don't act trustworthy. I get that, I really do. It does not excuse anyone from voting, nor does it mean you shouldn't try to change the system. The right to govern is granted by the people, but only by those who bother to make an effort to control the system, if you don't vote you are giving that control to someone else. If you want to see someone more worthy elected then elect someone more worthy or run yourself, it really is that simple.

Stephen Fry

Sexless, uninteresting, graceless and very often styleless people as they may be, it is WE who are the problem, not politicians... we pay them a small amount of money in order to lay off our own guilt.

How To Prevent the Decay of the Democratic Process

or Why Should We Vote In Elections

In the examples above I singled out two of the most ruthless dictators of modern history, however I could just have easily picked out hundreds of other examples of democracy gone terribly wrong, both from modern and ancient history. The Caesars' of Rome for example, Julius was elected Dictator (which was a valid position at the time and does not equate to what we now call Dictator, but rather simply sole head of state). He had been appointed by the senate as Dictator perpetuo (dictator in perpetuity) at the time of his murder, this did not actually mean Dictator for life but rather Dictator for as long as needed. Julius was never an Emperor of Rome, he was simply the democratically elected head of state.

So how is it then if, that bastion of freedom, Democracy can be so corrupted that we can ever hope to preserve it? Participation is the only way to keep the system in check. Ultimately the voters ARE the final check of the system. Educate yourself on the issues, research the candidates positions on the issues, don't just listen to the debate, look into their past actions as well. An informed vote is the ONLY vote that should ever be cast. As much as I believe everyone should vote, if you don't know the issues don't vote, still go to the polling station, but rather spoil your ballot (assuming that's allowed in your jurisdiction), a refusal to cast your vote is better than not showing up.

Jesse Ventura

Remember something, if you will, about voting: Voting is not a horse race, you're not going there thinking "Gee, I gotta pick the winner so I can brag to my friends 'Oh, I picked so-and-so and he or she won'". Voting is voting your heart and voting your conscience and when you've done that, don't ever, EVER let a Democrat or Republican tell you that you've wasted your vote because the fact is, if you DON'T vote your heart and conscience then you HAVE wasted your vote.

Where to Get Involved - Canadian Edition

Canadian and want to get involved in Canadian Politics but don't know how? Here are some great links to get you started

David Foster Wallace, Up, Simba!

If you are bored and disgusted by politics and don't bother to vote, you are in effect voting for the entrenched Establishments of the two major parties, who please rest assured are not dumb, and who are keenly aware that it is in their interests to keep you disgusted and bored and cynical and to give you every possible reason to stay at home doing one-hitters and watching MTV on primary day. By all means stay home if you want, but don't bullshit yourself that you're not voting. In reality, ther

Educate Yourself

Pick up a book and read a little more about the political process to prepare yourself for upcoming votes.

Peggy Noonan, Patriotic Grace: What It Is and Why We Need It Now

Our political leaders will know our priorities only if we tell them, again and again, and if those priorities begin to show up in the polls.

Rick Mercer Rants

Rick Mercer is a popular Canadian comedian who focuses on politics. His show Rick Mercer Report has a feature called the Rant. If you are Canadian this should be mandatory viewing for all citizens qualified to vote. At the very least Canadian Public School children should have to be shown the rant of the week every new episode. I don't agree with all of Rick Mercer's opinions, however he sure fires up passion for politics.

Abraham Lincoln

Elections belong to the people. It's their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.

© 2012 Jeff Johnston

Your Chance to Rant

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    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 4 years ago from Canada

      I always vote in provincial and federal elections but rarely in civic elections. I am definitely a very proud Canadian and want to insure the best possible outcome for my country and the world as a whole. We are all connected and you are so correct in the fact that people are the difference. We are so very blessed to have the wealth and freedoms that we do.