Privilege and The Vote
There are people in their fifties who haven’t cast a single vote in their life. They’re Pakistani, making a living in this country, and not voting. There is one thing in common between these fifty year olds and me: privilege.
At age 23, I’m casting my first vote. I could come up with a number of excuses for this delay, ranging from wrongly documented constituencies to losing my ID card at a crucial time. But the fact of the matter is that for the longest while, I’ve had little or no opinion or vested interest in politics. When you don’t have to worry about basic amenities, you are automatically dissociated from the ‘power of the vote’. Politics and government policies become the stuff of television talk shows and drawing room discussions.
The need to vote has seeped into my generation the way elephant-bottom pants took over the 80s. Jalsas have turned into free concerts and political parties are swapping their complimentary dastarkhwans for trendy wearable merch.
The political high is palpable.
This is both, a good and bad thing. Good, because the public is actively being driven to vote. Bad, because the vote is being cast for all the wrong reasons. Freebies and favors aren’t what you should be voting for.
So what should you be voting for?
The first thing you need to be clear of is that tomorrow you’ll be partaking in the General Elections. This means that you will vote for an individual from your constituency to represent your community at a provincial or national level. They will be communicators, arbitrators and problem solvers. That’s it.
So if you were under the impression that the candidate of your choice would get potholes and fused street lights fixed, you are sorely mistaken. That is not part of their job description. The MNA or MPA will raise the need to fix potholes or street lights in their respective assemblies. They will work towards passing legislation that requires local bodies to keep infrastructure in check.
Voting for a well-spoken, articulate individual who WILL listen and communicate your concerns is what you should be doing.
Why vote at all?
After missing six elections, it’s only fair I address this question with berating myself: What the hell, Urooj? At best, your vote gives you license to hold your leaders accountable. That’s power, folks. And you can get it with just a few hours spent out in the heat.
Up till this point, I can’t even pretend like there’s a way around this heat. But nor can Espresso. As per tradition, they’re offering free coffee to anyone who voted in the elections. Burger Lab too is recognizing your need to commemorate the vote with gourmet fries, on the house. Toldja; that’s power.
Post-Election loitering, anyone?
Apparently, people get very touchy once the results are announced. It may be a mid-week national holiday, and you may be feeling festive after a long day at the polling booth. Tomorrow is NOT the day to try that new eatery forty minutes away. The last thing you want is to get caught up in an unsavory protest or worst; end up eating mithai manhandled by several individuals on a roadside celebration. Don’t put yourself through that. Stick close to home.
Your vote is not a privilege. It is a right; some would argue, a duty. It’s not my business to dictate your duties but what I do know is that it feels good after you’ve played your part. It makes ranting at something stupid said on a talk show more meaningful. I’m all for this election fever.