I voted for the first time yesterday. Now whoever wins, I can complain about it without feeling like I had nothing to do with it. I stood in line like everybody else in the heat of the Indian sun, amidst people, some of whom were excited to vote and others who were wondering when the line would shorten.
Till I stood in the booth before the symbols, I had no clue who I was going to press the button for. But at least I knew who I definitely didn’t want to vote for even accidentally. I wouldn’t say voting was an exciting experience. But yes, it made me feel a bit responsible. We watch democracy play out, this dysfunctional democracy that somehow grows on us.
The power went out, the voting began late and people tried to cut lines, but everybody continued, just for that ink on their finger, in the hope of a better future. Not that the future will be affeted by this, I am not expecting much. But every five years we try our luck. When you’ve lived in this dysfunctional democracy all your life, you think that it’s not so bad.
Like every election there’s always foul play. But this is the case for every democracy not just ours. For some the voting is a long-awaited holiday. For me I had another submission. After voting I went back to studying, writing about an election ironically. We’re all humbled by the fact that we can’t always produce great work. I also think it’s unfair that we expect the best of everyone all the time. Employers do it, institutions do it, everyone does it.
We have such short patience for mistakes but are never satisfied even if the work is brilliant. After a point it’s a toxic and unforgiving working environment where there is a lack of encouragement and only disapproval. As I submitted this assignment I thought why I was stressing so much. Sometimes we forget that humans are the ones grading us. But we’re so afraid of letting them down.
I felt the same way voting yesterday, it’s just a button, why does it mean so much? We mistake ourselves into thinking we’re part of this huge system that respects us and if we vote that’s enough. I guess I am a bit jaded because of the system because of how humans treat one another. We only ever think of others when we need something.
In this dog-eat-dog world, I have decided I don’t want to be either dog. There’s a comfort in being human, and I want to focus on that. Maybe my vote will be the deciding vote, maybe it won’t but I don’t want to stress over that, I did my bit. Perhaps maybe there should be something worth it when we vote. I may have enjoyed voting and felt proud of it if we had strong candidates and weren’t arguing about how one may be marginally better than the other.
Even though we have the option of NOTA or None of the Above we’re always reminded that the possibility of that being taken seriously is nil. Thus, our hands are tied. What kind of a choice is that? I can’t believe that people before the elections were trying to convince me to vote for a candidate by asking me, “Who else is standing? There’s no one else.”
Maybe for once if politicians were told like other normal beings, that if they can’t live up to expectations they should not be allowed to stand at all, just like failing an exam. We’re always trying to better ourselves to beat others, but we never ask why we must. Voting for someone because there isn’t anyone else to vote for isn’t democracy.
The sooner we realise that, the sooner we’ll realise that every time we’re told, “there’s room for improvement, better luck next time,” and set the highest standards to clear exams or to impress someone, we must also reject those who get to affect our lives, improvement and rejection cannot be one-way streets. If we treat the election as an exam, just because somebody answers a question less wrong, doesn’t make it right.
Have you ever seen a teacher compare answers by which one is more correct? Some answers maybe subjective, but even then what’s wrong remains wrong, ruling them out in the running to score the highest marks. That’s how I see this, and that’s why I voted for what I voted for, not for someone “better”.