It seems that the same dilemma occurs in pretty much every democracy at some point. People get tired of voting. They are tired to vote the lesser of the (in many cases) two evils. Because in the end, the choice they make, is still evil. Comparing the USA to Austria, there are some parallels that stick out. In both countries people often do not know whom to vote. Yes, I often tell them that it is a democratic duty to vote, not just a constitutional right. But still. I often understand their resentments. In the following piece I am going to discuss the options we have and why I still think that it is better to vote than not to. Maybe, there is a solution but it is going to take constitutional changes to get there.
Two candidates who are not ideal!
One parallel between the USA and Austria is that we are stuck with two candidates. We agree more with one and despise the other. But in the end, we feel like our democracy reached a low point because those are the only candidates left. In the USA, people have a choice between a chauvinist, racist and liar and a woman who treats national security very casually. In any other country or against any other candidate those two would lose. Period. But in the end, it should be better to vote for someone who made mistakes (Hilary Clinton) than for someone who is about to make a lot of mistakes (Donald Trump).
<<When electing wisely, political protest should not be necessary!>>
In Austria, we have a choice between a far, far right politician and a very left one. As people we stand in the middle and are drawn to one of those candidates feeling like both are far from being ideal or presidential. But I am going to say it out loud! I am going to vote for the one on the left as I never understood the concept of political protest during an election. When electing wisely, political protest should not be necessary. Should it become necessary, we have made a poor choice during the previous election.
Lesser of two evils does not need to be evil!
Whenever we have a choice, there is no evil. It would be evil, if we hadn’t. Far worse. But we have a choice and we have to make the best decision with the information available. A democratic vote is not like the menu of a restaurant. You do not get to pick whatever you prefer. Your pick is based on the options available. And they are limited. You are not going to order a burger in a pizzeria. And the same principle can be applied to elections. A democratic vote is framed in certain rules. And part of those rules are the candidates available for election. Not going to vote is certainly not going to change the rules or the candidates.
Accepting that, decisions can be made accordingly. We ought to confront ourselves with the political positions each candidate offers and choose whomever we trust the most to represent our beliefs. This is the reason why political debates get heated. Because people are forced to take a position and that is exactly what we need to do every four, five or six years. Understanding the mechanisms of a democratic election, you understand that the less of the two evils is just a representation of ourselves.
Are there alternatives?
Yes, there are. But not in place! If a democracy should decide that reaching at least 60 percent of the voting population during an election is mandatory, a new option would be available. Then, suddenly not voting becomes an option. In my opinion it is far more important to assume our democratic responsibility and vote one of the candidates available.
Exercise your right to vote!
There is another thing the USA and Austria have in in common. My fear that very few people are going to exercise their right to vote. The sign of weakness of any healthy democracy is not the choice between two poor candidates but people who decide to not take part in elections. So do yourselves a favor and vote. Is it going to be Hilary Clinton or Donald Trump (USA), Alexander van der Bellen or Norbert Hofer (Austria). At the end of the day, we need to remember that politicians ought to represent ourselves and we authorize them to do so!