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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Not being worried about not voting...

Despite agreeing that the many other ways to improve democracy besides voting - such as actually working on the non-voting days to improve the system for all - I still shuffled off to the polling station last week... . Not very satisfying, as usual, so this current discussion at the Guardian has been interesting:

"I've been pleased (says Andy Fitzgerald) to see a critical discussion about the nature of democracy of late. Some of it within the pages of the Guardian. Probably the most high-profile instance was Russell Brand's piece following his much-shared and much-belittled interview on BBC's Newsnight. One critical step in Brand's democratic revolution: recognizing that you can't change the system if you are lending the system legitimacy by participating. He writes: "The only reason to vote is if the vote represents power or change." Since he doesn't think this is the case, Brand won't vote, and he encourages others to do the same. This decision – unlike my own absent-mindedness – is an expressly political move, contributing to a debate over just how democratic liberal democracies are. I have to agree with the 15-year-old's essay he references, arguing that "spoiling the ballot" would send a clearer message and pack a greater communicative punch than simply not voting – perhaps Canada's Edible Ballot Society would serve as a good model.

The point is, democracy is as much about open public debate over the condition of our lives, and how we want to see that condition in the future, as it is about the elections that are supposed to facilitate openness and accountability. That's what the idea of "deliberative democracy" is all about: a popular conversation about politics within the public sphere. Elections and the legal crystallization of the outcomes are also a part, but the bounds of what constitutes rational deliberation and "democratic action" are, themselves, up for debate – both in theory and in practice."

Russell Brand's great interview  follow-up piece (and treat yourself to the interview):

Edible Ballot Society (now these are some fun people!):