Democracy is not a delivery service - or why I have no respect for non voters
Finally the article is available on the English site, I read the original a few days ago and was like “yes, this is exactly why”:
The notion that all parties are the same is the top argument presented by non-voters.
Admittedly, present-day Germany is able to manage just fine without the great ideological battles of the past, and this is reflected in the parties’ political platforms. Still, it would be preferable if the opposition could offer strong alternative concepts on key issues, such as Europe’s future and the Energiewende, Germany’s push to abandon nuclear energy and promote renewable sources. Of course, it would also be nice if Chancellor Angela Merkel did not so pointedly avoid content-related debates. Democracy thrives on a contest of ideas, and this works best the more these ideas differ from one another, and the clearer the differences between their proponents.
But does the current lack of polarization justify the fact that an increasing number of voters are adopting the role of consumers — and are morphing into couch-potato voters who would like to be “offered” something by politics instead of actively informing themselves about what the politicians are proposing? It may be true that Angela Merkel wants to put voters asleep. But does that mean that they have to allow themselves to be lulled to sleep?
But democracy is not a delivery service or an entertainment program. A democracy can expect a certain degree of knowledge from its citizens — a modicum of involvement. Anyone who rejects this also refuses to contribute to its success — and thus puts its future at risk.
All those who are complaining that the political platforms are not attractive enough, and that the parties are lame and boring, have done nothing to prevent them from becoming lame and boring. They are like stowaways grumbling that the ship isn’t sailing fast enough.
They also overlook that, by taking such an attitude, they are placing themselves not only above the political parties and their candidates, but also above those who actually do choose to vote — and, ultimately, above democracy itself. The refusal to choose the lesser evil is a rejection of everything that is unsightly and imperfect about democracy. It is a refusal to accept its key characteristic, the art of compromise, and indeed ultimately a rejection of this form of government.
When intellectuals complain that politicians “debate on setting the minimum wage one euro higher or lower,” this reflects not only an arrogant disregard for the concerns of low-income earners, but also an ignorance of what democracy is all about. Democracy also involves intricate details that have to be hammered out in lengthy negotiations that often produce mediocre results — and, particularly in Germany, this political system has been designed as an alternative to the “grand vision” forms of government.
By its very nature, democracy must always remain somewhat mediocre and unglamorous. People who are looking for something that sends them into raptures would be better off going to the opera or a football stadium. An alternative would be Plato’s idea of a government of philosopher-kings. That’s arguably something that we really don’t need.
"I’ve never voted because politics has never been able to win me over," admits German actor Moritz Bleibtreu. In a democratic country, he has every right to withhold his vote, he insists, adding that he has never noticed that a change in government has made any difference in his life. “I’m simply not 100 percent won over by any party,” he says.
But anyone who expects a 100-percent match has not understood democracy. Such critics are demanding the fit of a tailor-made suit when only off-the-rack clothing can be offered. Each and every voter has to decide for themselves which model fits best.
Contrary to what they would like us to believe, non-voters are not precipitating any long-awaited changes. Instead, they are merely bolstering the power of those who they complain about. They make the political parties even larger than they actually are. Eligible voters who stay home because they have had enough of Angela Merkel are, in effect, helping her to win a mandate for her third term in office. “It’s not as if non-voting had no influence,” says Bundestag President Lammert. “It has an influence — though but usually not the intended one.”