It is both puzzling and instructive that the pundits, that is to say the liberals who believe the essence of political action to be “discuss, discuss, discuss” (here we might recall Carl Schmitt’s quip about liberals confronted with the question, “Christ or Barabbas?”) whereby discussion is presented in its essence in the vote (i.e., an opinion marked on a piece of paper, anonymously), are so upset by the sheer audacity of “the people” to refuse to vote. You see, only 49.2% of eligible votes bothered to turn out to vote in Ontario on Thursday. We are told that this is a sad comparison to 1971 when 73.5% of the electorate bothered to vote; the youth these days! iPads? What about I-Vote?! The winning party, the Liberals, secured what their leader calls “a major minority” (talk about Rumsfeldian epistemology!) by winning 53 seats out of a total of 107. Relative to “the popular vote,” which does not exist in Canada by the way, this means that the Liberals secured a third term on roughly 18% of votes cast. This has lead to predictable results among the punditocracy: what must we do to make more people vote? On the radio the other night, I was told that I should be dragged into public and kicked in the balls because I, unlike the caller, was apathetic. Not literally I, of course, but my fellow “apathetic” refuseniks.
When confronted with the option of centrist-liberalism (NDP which we should not confuse with a “socialist” party: it is a Tony Blair-ite/Clintonian “Third Way” party–the “socialism” of the NDP is tantamount to saying “hi” to an acquaintance in line behind you at Starbucks), a right-liberalism (the Liberals, of course) and another right-liberalism (the PC/Conservatives/Reform whose “right wing” credentials are equivalent to saying the exact same thing as the Liberals, but in front of a Tim Hortons), it is little surprise that no one voted. Oh, right, the “environmentalist” Green Party also ran some candidates as did the crazy Christian “family values” party. When there is no difference, all we have is emotive, passing preference: does Hudak’s voice upset you? Do you think McGuinty looks slimy? And who is that lady from Hamilton? A lady? No thanks, we’re liberals!
The question isn’t “Why didn’t you vote?” but, “Why did you vote?” The pathology is not found among those who opt-out, but among those who steadfastly believe that the choice between Coke, Pepsi and RC Cola is actually a choice–regardless of the label, it is still a painted, vacuum-sealed can of high fructose corn syrup, caramel colour, and caffein that you paid too much money for. To vote isn’t to vote for a party or a perspective or an ideology. It is to vote for the sake of voting. It is an attempt to construct a divide between those who are “pathetic” and those who are apathetic; between the good and the bad; between those who mindlessly do their duty and those who do not. Of course, we should note the homology between “duty” and “dootie”–voting in the present climate is equivalent to standing in line for a half hour and then shitting in a little, white cardboard box; that is, doing your duty while doing your dootie. The voter would rather will nothing than not will at all, to borrow from Nietzsche.
Sure, feel proud you cast your ballot; feel superior to me because I did not; and feel free to tell me that because I didn’t vote, I don’t get to complain. Just be rest assured that I’ll ignore you like I ignored the ballot box. If it is impractical to punch a liberal in the face–and, I repeat, there is no difference here between the Starbucks liberals and Tim Hortons liberals–I recommend you just ignore them.