Nevertheless, according to our (which includes those of us who choose not to vote) Constitution, section 4(e) gives us the right to join political parties and to express our political views. In jurisprudence, this is what we refer to as the “closure rule,” which embodies the concept that everything not forbidden by law is permitted by law .
Therefore, the right to join and express, is just as valid as the right not to do either .
Voting is a right, not a duty. It is not compulsory like it is in 22 countries around the world. And there’s no “civic duty” of an individual to vote for the betterment of society. Voting is a highly subjective experience, comparable to one’s sexual orientation, religious beliefs or absolute autonomy over his or her body. If I choose to be promiscuous or have an abortion, that’s my business. If I choose to lead a life of meditation, self-chastisement and celibacy, that’s my business .
Equally, if I choose not to exercise my right to vote, that’s my business. And no one should be berated, devalued, coerced, humiliated, or bullied for taking a stance. But again, Vasant’s party is known for this kind of behaviour as well. Cue Keith Rowley’s rape allegation and expulsion .
How can anyone be so disrespectful of another person’s legal choice? If a member of society chooses not to vote (or even spoil the ballot), he or she cannot be described as any less engaged with their society or government than any other member. As a Trinidad and Tobago citizen born to a Tobagonian father and a Trinidadian mother, I am offended by the presupposition that my voice means nothing because I choose not to vote for parties, whose policies I see as inadequate .
I guess in this case, I should play “eenie, meenie, miney, mo” to conform to Vasant’s statement .
Or being the soca junkie that I am, I should vote based on which party’s music truck played the better songs during campaigns. I mean, who cares if it’s not a free and informed decision, right? As a citizen, it is the government and other elected representatives who have a duty towards me. Politicians are accountable to the people they represent, and the dynamics of the accountability principle are in no way changed by the number of people who vote. There is no opt-out clause triggered by the act of not voting .
Vasant’s opinion is an affront to the entire concept of free choice .
But, truthfully, we have no free choice. You can choose to call it a dilemma, a Morton’s fork, or a Hobson’s choice; but the result will quite possibly be the same .
Tomorrow’s general election is, to me, analogous to a cow standing at a fork in the road, where both roads lead to the slaughterhouse; the People’s Partnership on the left with a straight road to the slaughterhouse; and the People’s National Movement on the right with possibly a long meandering road to the slaughterhouse (we’ll know for sure within the first 12 months if they win) .
We all know that there are many others who share the sentiment of Vasant, and of course, I have been bashed by all the self-righteous voters out there. Especially, albeit ironically, those who are only voting for the PNM to get rid of a government they deem to be corrupt, or those voting for the PP because “everybody does teef ” .
According to some, “no vote is a vote for the ‘other party’”. A bold assumption that my vote would have gone to the party that they support – probably based on my race. Another man said he would quicker vote for a “mangy dog” over the ‘other party’ .
These are all negative reasons to vote. I refuse to pervert the voting process with a negative vote, so I will not use my vote for anything besides full support. End of story .
My position not to vote does not mean that I am undecided; it just means that I am unconvinced .
I know who I would prefer to run this country, but unfortunately, former Prime Mi n i s t e r s , A.N.R. Robinson and Eric Williams are no longer around .