Sep 2, 2018

The grace of democracy

- Can’t we do it online?

I remember my childhood’s Election Day as a day of weight. Mom and dad dressed up in their best coats walking to the city hall in the small town Nordmaling where I grew up. Casting their votes. An important moment at the beginning of September every forth year. Coming back to the house for a Sunday afternoon coffee with friends they bumped into at the ballot box.

I don’t remember my sister and I going with them. It was serious adult matter. When Trouble & Trouble were young we always brought them. No dressing up, but the whole family driving to the school in the next village which was our location for the voting. They didn’t see the point of course, and I am sure they protested as they grew older but I was firm on this. I wanted to pass on the importance of every man and woman’s personal impact on Swedish society and our lives through the right to vote for the politics we believe in. And I wanted to create the every-four-year habit in their mind and bodies. 

We take democracy for granted. We shouldn’t.

In December this year it is a 100 years since equal and general suffrage was decided on in Sweden. As a constitutional change was required, 1921 was the year when every man and woman finally had the right to vote. (That’s not entirely true though, people in prison, gone bankruptcy, entitled to social service or legally incapacitated was not allowed to vote at that time. And Swedish Romanies did not have a vote until 1959…!) 

The road leading up to 1921 had been long and winding. In the early 1900 a popular movement educating people in political rights and responsibility swept through the country creating an enlightened population. It might very well be that the Swedish people was better educated in these matters at that time then we are today when democracy is like air and water. It’s just there.

But as air and water. Can we take it for granted?

Democracy, in terms of actually casting your vote, takes action. In this time and age speaking your mind up is ridiculously easy. Even dangerously easy. You can shout out most anything on social media. You can pump up your opinion and your ego without any effort. Your vote a Like. 

- Can’t we do it online? 

It’s a friend of mine in his mid thirties asking. It’s a joke. But I am thinking, to many in their early twenties, or the 18 year-old first time voters, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a serious question. When you have grown up doing everything online it might be a legitimate reaction. Home work, shopping, tests, dating, banking, social life, taxes. Even the obituaries have moved to the internet. When people pass away, we get to know via Facebook.

In the Swedish general election 2014 86% of the population casted their vote. That’s a high percentage compared to most countries. But will the youngest online-generation accept an IRL having-to-drag-oneself-to-some-obscure-polling-station they are not acquainted with? Did their parents teach them the importance of this Jurassic tradition?

I know I sound like an arrogant and possibly ignorant 60+ here. And I do hope I am wrong.

I think what I am saying here is this. Cyber Space is decontaminated with opinions. Loud ones. Shouted out. Screamed. Yelled. This is a disease spread among most every group in society. And when leaders of the free world raises that megaphone to their lips, why shouldn’t everyone else?

OK, that’s a different subject, what I’m getting at is this: no matter how much you shout or Like or get Liked, your actual voice to impact the development of your country needs to be placed in an IRL box to matter. In Sweden an envelope given from your hand received by another hand. Eyes meeting eyes. And it will happen next Sunday, September 9.

And to you who speak in small letters: At the ballot box. When your hand is giving the envelope to the hand receiving. Eyes meeting. Your voice is as loud as everyone else. That’s the beauty of your vote. The grace of democracy.

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