Sunday, May 12, 2013

Why the Hell Should I Vote?

I hate waiting in line. I hate filling out forms. I hate having no control over the outcome of something I took pains to participate in.

So why the hell do I bother vote?

Tomorrow is the 2013 national and local election and my second time to vote. I remember the first time I voted in 2010. It was also then that I received my first bribe—five hundred bucks. I do not know what else to call it. I did not ask for it, mind you and to be honest I was pissed off when I was given the money. But I had no say in the matter because the town where I live is the kind of town where everyone knows everyone and I did not want to offend the person giving the “gift” nor did I feel that I was in the right position to start preaching. I was simply shocked that the handout was so easy and matter of fact.

I am quite sure the woman giving the bribe was not a minion of the Antichrist. She was only doing something that sadly has become acceptable in many parts of the Philippines. I guess that event was to be my rude awakening at how complex and bad the political culture in my country is.

Vote-buying is still prevalent—I had just found out that the handouts had reached P1,600 where I live. If politicians are willing to risk that much money then this practice must really be working. This is reason enough for me to vote. When I do not exercise my right to vote, I feel as though I am letting the people whose votes have been bought determine the future of my country. I don’t even want to imagine what kind of people they are. 

On the other hand, when I do vote, I feel like I am making a stand against vote-buyers. It is my own little way of saying “Fuck you! You cannot buy my free will!” If only other educated people would think this way instead of taking on a defeatist attitude. Just think of every person who has ever told you that they are not going to participate in the elections because their vote will not count anyway. I am pretty sure all of them make up a pretty big number.

Voting and choosing the right people to hold office is the least I can do to improve the political situation in the Philippines. I do not mean to sound overly optimistic. I am well aware that this country has a long way to go before it reaches a level of political maturity. But I also know that big changes can come from small, simple acts.  How can I expect the government to start functioning properly when I cannot even do my own part in making sure that the right people assume power?

I still hate long lines, filling out complicated forms and waiting for hours for something I have no control over. And yet I hate the thought of giving up a privilege that other people have died fighting to have even more. 

I would rather spend several hours waiting for my turn to cast my vote than spend the next couple of years whining that the government sucks even though I did not even take time to vote for anyone I deemed worthy. 

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