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Primum non nocere

With fragmentation of national cultural spheres, what does my vote mean outside of the microcosm of my peers and I? It signifies my preferences and my perceptions; an introverted base for an act that will only deliver if there is consensus.

Photo of Fleur Beamish
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We need to stress more verbs than merely "voting" for democracy. The once-off bureaucratic inconvenience of the vote is boring; the huge inconsistency between intention and effected leadership is uninspiring. Going out there into the streets, building bridges, developing working partnerships - all that is far hipper on the verb-scale and far more pro-democratic. 

Citizens may vote: but it is in the role (or absentee role) of the private person where democratic ends are achieved or betrayed , that we have the power to make change as the article below got me thinking.  The article reinforces some ideas I had knocking around about how democracy doesn't quite gel; democracy is like a diffuse valve for free market economies & not much more.
Over the past 50 years, that common civic culture has unraveled. We have developed a new upper class with advanced educations, often obtained at elite schools, sharing tastes and preferences that set them apart from mainstream America. At the same time, we have developed a new lower class, characterized not by poverty but by withdrawal from America's core cultural institutions.

How could we achieve a little discursive democracy in our own heads, to enrich the system, debunk our blinkered vision and reinforce our collective understandings, before heading off to the polls? As in the video clip, the documentarian noted a natural inclination to connect and pursue continuing conversation on the part of his subjects. This makes me think that, since when I vote I am responsible for others too, I should have a clear picture in my head of how my vote one way or the other would affect a typical cross section of my community - people I am unlikely to know personally but nevertheless voting becomes my platform to be curious about these others without judgment.  "First do no harm" should be the democratic voters creed; a grassroots empathetic pledge.

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Photo of Ashley

Hi Fleur, really interesting thoughts here. What I like most is your point about how we can use elections as an opportunity to connect people and communities, rather than seeing it as another opportunity to point out our divisions and differences. I'm looking forward to seeing how this kind of thinking can inspire our concepts later on.