Queen of Hearts

In his letter (Tri-Cities NOW, 2014-02-14) Joerge Dyrkton proposes that:

“… voters should be allowed a ‘veto’ on each and every ballot in the next federal election… to give people of conscience a chance to express their dissent at oppressive party platforms.”

Ah… the cry of the imperious voter!  The field of choice having failed quite to suit one’s fancy, with a peevish “Harrumph!” a dismissive airy wave and a settling back in the easy chair, it’s “Take them away!  Bring-on a new batch!”

I am reminded in this of Alice’s encounter with the Queen of Hearts:

“The Queen turned crimson with fury, and, after glaring at her for a moment like a wild beast, screamed ‘Off with her head!  Off—’

“‘Nonsense!’  said Alice, very loudly and decidedly, and the Queen was silent.”  — Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

This tired old “None of the Above!”  lament is a denial of, or perhaps merely an abject failure to recognize, one’s own responsibility in the process.  It is, in other words, a cop-out, and, as Alice so succinctly said:  “Nonsense!”

As a voter you are entitled to examine the offerings and make the best of what’s there, and if you don’t like these choices, with extremely few exceptions, you yourself are entitled to run and so to offer choices you like better.

I do recognize that while getting on the ballot is trivially easy, running seriously is hard, takes a lot of work, time and money, a lot of help, and a lot of commitment — and, no matter what, there will always be someone out for your head or disparaging you for your effort.  It’s not for everyone — but you’re also entitled to recruit that friend, neighbour or colleague who seems to have all the answers, to run, and to help him or her to do so.

And, still, you can always get involved with any of the parties, mainstream or otherwise, or even create a new one, and work from within to urge them toward policies and platforms you prefer.  And there is of course scope for all manner of constructive activism, as well.

That is how to send a message.  That is how to express conscientious dissent.  “None of the Above” sends no message that anyone will receive, much less understand or know what to do about it.  It achieves exactly nothing.

You’re not entitled, in any case, to just sit back and expect “someone” to deliver at your convenience your ideal selection on a silver platter, nor to be offended if they don’t.  If you don’t like the choices, it’s not up to some mysterious someone-else to improve upon them, and no magic-bullet ballot option will help.  It’s up to you.

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