Last night’s First Election Debate on ITV1 ensured that the upcoming General Election is no longer a two-horse race. Nick Clegg rose above the petty rivalries of Cameron and Brown to come off as a fresh alternative to blue-red government. He also had the advantage of sounding like the only man not reading off a script. Overall he was thoroughly telegenic and managed to communicate the Liberal Democrats’ sensible policies effectively to an audience who may not have been familiar with them.
It’s no secret that I will be voting for the Liberal Democrats on May the 6th. The Lib Dems’ policies are more logical than the other two parties, the party isn’t in the pocket of big businesses, Vince Cable is by far the best economist out of the three potential Chancellors, and now they’ve proven that their party leader can engage people on a real human level. They’re not perfect: their manifesto has no mention of higher education (a topic important to me) and I had to agree with Cameron about the unenforceability of regionalised immigration.
Can the Liberal Democrats win? Will we hear the familiar refrain: “I’d vote Liberal Democrat but there’s no way they’d win.” This frequently-used argument betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the election process. In an election, you vote for who you believe in, not who you think is going to win. Voting is not betting. The idea that a minority vote is a wasted vote is absurd and demonstrates people’s preference for being factually correct rather than morally correct. Bowing to majority pressure and the fatalism of accepting what you believe cannot be changed is – in an existentialist sense – inauthentic.
“Certainly, many people think that in what they are doing they commit no one but themselves to anything and if you ask them, “What would happen if everyone did so?” they shrug their shoulders and reply, “Everyone does not do so.” But in truth, one ought always to ask oneself what would happen if everyone did as one is going; nor can one escape from that disturbing thought except by a kind of self-deception.” – Jean-Paul Sartre, Existentialism is a Humanism, 1946.
On May 6th, do what you believe is right. Even if nobody agrees with you. Even if I don’t agree with you. Vote for who you think should win not who you think will win.