Monologue of the (possible) abstentionist

To vote or not to vote.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
24 May 2023 Wednesday 16:57
17 Reads
Monologue of the (possible) abstentionist

To vote or not to vote. He doesn't feel enthusiasm for any mayor and, moreover, he sees the seams of all those who run for office. The temptation to become an abstentionist is something that has already settled in his head. It bothers him that this is so, but it bothers him even more that many of those who apply for the vote treat him as an idiot, either by blatantly lying, dissimulating, promising freebies or using made-up phrases that mean nothing.

The debates and electoral events have magnified his disinterest, to the point of feeling irritated, fatigued and exhausted. This scares him, since he considers himself a radical democrat, one of those who have never missed an appointment with the polls. "What's wrong with me?", he asks, while the election rumbets play in the background, like routine anthems of a joyless party.

Pick up La Vanguardia from the bar where you make coffee and read an interesting article by Josep Corbella on the mathematics of abstention. He is left with a very clarifying paragraph: "In short, neither abstaining nor voting blank are neutral decisions. Even if we don't intend to, if we abstain we favor some parties and if we vote blank we favor others. These are actions with consequences just like voting for a party".

Box or sash. Whatever he does, he's sure to be sorry. It's early, but he wants to order a whiskey, to think better about next Sunday. He doesn't, prudence stops him and the small detail that it's only ten in the morning.

The potential abstentionist is assailed by a doubt of enormous proportions: "Where does the lesser evil now lie?" Is the lesser evil to abstain or vote blank (to send a signal of disgust that no one will listen to) or is the lesser evil to vote with a nose clip for the candidate you consider less bad? Other times, he's opted for the nose clip and felt like a useful fool. By virtue of being constructive, the body now asks him to be a little anti-system (but he also does not want to vote for those who are placed at the extremes).

It could be said that it is the age, more or less, of the democracy recovered in Spain. From his grandfather he learned that the vote is a precious conquest, which should not be underestimated. It has always been frowned upon by those who do not value the fact of being able to choose our representatives, and it cannot stand those who use words like partitocracy, with nostalgic resonances. But it has hit rock bottom, or so it believes at the moment. He is not the only one who suffers; he has friends, relatives and acquaintances who are doing the same pondering, trapped in a labyrinth where the distance from the speeches overlaps with the boredom in front of certain attitudes and postures.

Of all the electoral tableau, what catches his attention the most is the growing lack of sense of the ridiculous of many of those who aspire to be mayors and councilors. They are spirited illusionists who pull mice out of the copalta hat instead of rabbits, trying to make sure no one notices the trick.

Before, circuses were set up to capture the longed-for vote, but our present is getting a show of such dubious quality that certain spots from the seventies and eighties could seem to us like art cinema and an essay of the one who made us think so much . Some of today's crackpots, without knowing it, do not even reach the prodigies of Eduardo Tarragona, procurator aperturista in the Franco Courts (who sought and found a place in the sun in 1977), who triumphed with a slogan which was a remarkable display of synthesis: "Who says to bread bread and to wine, wine". In the pre-made arguments recited by the candidates, the imagination does not usually shine much, although there is no shortage of fantasy.

Bryan Caplan, author of the book The Myth of the Rational Voter, writes that "going to vote is not simply a small variation on going shopping, because shoppers have incentives to be rational and voters do not." 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 the method of breaking the everyday 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." For this reason – I suggest to those who want to delve deeper into perplexities – the most difficult thing for any eventual abstentionist is to build a story that lives up to their inconsolable dissatisfaction.