Monologue of the (possible) abstentionist

To vote or not to vote.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
24 May 2023 Wednesday 16:38
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Monologue of the (possible) abstentionist

To vote or not to vote. He is not enthusiastic about any head of the list and, in addition, he sees the seams of all of them. The temptation to become an abstentionist is something that has already settled in his cacumen. He is annoyed that this is the case, but it annoys him even more that many of those who apply for the vote treat him as an idiot, either by lying outright, dissembling, promising little gifts or putting up phrases that mean nothing.

The debates and electoral acts have increased his lack of interest, to the point of feeling irritated, fatigued and weak. That scares him, because he considers himself a radical democrat, one of those who have never missed the appointment with the polls. “What's wrong with me?”, He asks himself, while electoral rumbitas sound in the background, like routine hymns of a joyless party.

Take La Vanguardia from the bar where you have coffee and read an interesting article by Josep Corbella on the mathematics of abstention. He is left with a paragraph, very enlightening: “So neither abstaining nor voting blank are neutral decisions. Although we do not intend it, if we abstain we are favoring some parties and if we vote blank we are favoring others. They are actions with consequences, just like voting for a party.”

Scare or death. Whatever you do, it will weigh on you. It's early, but he feels like ordering a whiskey, to better meditate on next Sunday. He does not do it, prudence and the small detail that it is ten in the morning prevents him.

The potential abstentionist is assailed by a great doubt: "Where is the lesser evil now?" Is the lesser evil to abstain or vote blank (to send a signal of anger that no one will pay attention to) or is the lesser evil to vote with the clip on the nose for the candidate you consider less bad? Other times, he has opted for the nose clip and felt like a useful fool. In addition to being constructive, the body now asks him to be a little anti-establishment (but he also does not want to vote for those who are placed at the extremes).

It could be said that it has the age, more or less, of the recovered democracy in Spain. From his grandfather he learned that the vote is a precious conquest, which should not be underestimated. Those who don't value the fact of being able to elect our representatives have always gotten on his nerves, and he can't stand those who use words like party-ocracy, with nostalgic resonances. But he has hit rock bottom, or so he now believes.

He is not the only one who suffers from it; he has friends, relatives and acquaintances who are in the same pondering, trapped in a labyrinth where the remoteness regarding the speeches overlaps with the boredom before certain attitudes and poses.

Of all the electoral tableau, what most strikes him is the growing lack of sense of ridicule of many of those who aspire to be mayors and councilors. They are spirited illusionists who pull mice out of their hats instead of rabbits, to see if no one notices the big change. It's not that circuses weren't set up before for the long-awaited vote, but the present is achieving a spectacle of such dubious quality that certain spots from the 1970s and 1980s could seem to us like art-house films.

Some of today's cracks, without knowing it, do not even reach the prodigies of Eduardo Tarragona, open-minded attorney in the Francoist courts (who sought and found a place in the sun in 1977), who triumphed with a slogan that was a display of synthesis: " Qui diu al pa pa i al vi, vi”. In the prefabricated arguments that the candidates recite, the imagination does not usually shine, although fantasy is not lacking.

Bryan Caplan, author of The Myth of the Rational Voter, writes that "going to vote is not just a slight variation on going to shop, because shoppers have incentives to be rational and voters don't." For this American economist, "when voters talk about solving social problems, their main intention is to encourage the image they have of themselves as valuable citizens by breaking the daily chains of objectivity."

The conclusion offered by this academic opens an endless debate: "Political behavior is strange because the incentives faced by voters are strange." Hence – I suggest to those who want to delve into perplexities – the most difficult thing for any eventual abstentionist is to build a story that lives up to his inconsolable dissatisfaction.