Who should I vote for? Who should Christians vote for?Are any of the parties any good?
With the general election looming closer and closer, and the prospect of some significant change at Westminster, there is a lot of talk around about who to vote for. In this post, I want to advocate the non vote.
In Christian circles I hear lots of people saying they want to vote for the candidate or party who best represent what they regard as ‘Christian principles’ in an attempt to reclaim a ‘Christian focus at the heart of government’.
But in my opinion this notion of Christianity at the heart of democratic politics makes no real sense. This is not easy for me to say, my background is one of committed democratic socialism, redistribution and so on. But in recent times I’ve come to see democracy as a fraud, and the underlying policies of military and economic aggression as profoundly anti-christian.
To tackle democracy as a concept first, I think its easiest to explain it thus: we dont accept dictatorship – the rule of one individual, nor yet oligarchy, the rule of the elite, instead we call for democracy – the rule of the people, which in our case we administer by means of a majority vote. This means on a small scale that if ten people vote, and six of them choose one way, and four another, then the four who are overruled have to give in to the six. The greater the numbers, the more people who have to submit to the majority opinion. I dont see this as much better than rule by an elite to be honest, hypothetically if those six people are weak minded or easily impressed, and the four saw through the spin, why should they submit to being ruled by the majority decision?
My other discomfort with democracy is that I feel its a veneer, as Douglas Adams (I think) described it – it’s there to make you think somebody is in control. What he meant is that it gives us an illusion of power, wheras in reality the power in our country is exerted by economic forces. Yes the governments can tinker with things which are relatively important, but they must work within a closely defined set of parameters.
Governments dont really have the power to go against the economic power houses which have become totally entrenched in society. Its these same economic powers, institutions and corporations which are often richer than many governments, which maintain the levels of global inequality through the delights of the capitalist system.
Voting then gives us an illusion of control over a system which at its core is not controllable by one government, unless its some kind of militaristic dictatorship (not a good option).
So to vote then is to legitimise the system, and to allow it to function in your name. The non vote is a vote against the sham of democracy. I apologise to those who feel democracy is hard won, whether by suffragettes or soldiers, sadly I dont think that their great sacrifice means that we should legitimise this flawed system.
On the other point, that of the party policies. There are no parties which are against the killing of others under certain circumstances. I recognise that I am very much in a minority as a pacifist, but in my opinion to vote is to legitimise the kind of wars which are waged around the globe, and that means to have blood on ones hands.
I have no interest in having blood on my hands, I dont think its loving to go to war, and I dont want to support any government that will do so.
My final point is on this idea of a ‘Christian society’. I think this is a false utopia. The church shoud not be at the centre, but at the margins, not being the establishment voice but the outsider voice. Yes we should be working to help the poor and dispossessed, but our voice is not strengthened by wealth, power and privelige. I dont think we should be trying to recreate a ‘golden age’ (if one ever existed) Christian society, but instead re-finding our place among the poor and outcast, the refugee and outsider, and making our home there.
So that’s a long way of saying that I wont be voting on Thursday, I may go and spoil my ballot, but I may not even do that, for that in its way is to legitimise the system. I dont expect more than about one or two readers of this blog to agree with me, but in case you are wondering who to vote for this week, I urge you to consider not voting at all.
By the way, apologies for the lack of posts recently, I have one wrist in plaster, which is making typing very hard indeed. Ho hum.