In the end, it all begins with ink. Ink, which is used to blot out those little ovals on that thin cardboard of a ballot. Ink to stain the finger to make sure no one does it twice. Ink which becomes the mark of the good citizen. To be sure, quite a lot of it is virtual and digital now. But as ever before it is ink from where all starts. Ink will give it its required seal of finality.
This vision is of a hand perhaps roughened by age and labor or perhaps smooth and perpetually moisturized by a life of relative luxury. The disparity is not supposed to matter too much in this act. Each vote is supposed to be counted only once and thus, equally. The hand is connected to a body squeezed uncomfortably into the dimensions of little child’s public-school chair. The classroom itself has seen better times. There is a classical-romantic air to all these. The over all effect is almost too perfect to be uncontrived were this a painting or a movie or an imaginary scene from a novel.
The voter votes to decide the collective future. The act is done inside the half run-down environs of a public school classroom. And there, right in front of the blackboard where would have sat the school teacher, an odd contraption. It might for some mysterious reason or other breakdown and cause that long line of would-be voters to stretch further into the hot noonday sun. And yet, they will come. All manners of people, young and old, rich and poor, without and within the circles of power of a diversifying post-modern society.
The act has not become archaic. It is alive as ever. And yet so much still relies on the feudal past. Who will they vote for? And why?
One young person of pre-voting age puts it quite plainly: If they give you money to vote why “waste” the money by saying no?
It is an age-old value system which dates back to when fishing was still the dominant industry in these parts. Nobody threw the fish back into the sea no matter how small. That would be refusing to accept a gift from God. Which might be why the fishing industry has come to the sorry state it is in now. Which might be the reason why most of those who will be elected this time around will still come from old political dynasties. Notwithstanding all that has been said about political dynasties. Which might also be the reason why these elections will be decided by money more than anything else and still as ever before.
It is the culture. The rich and powerful do not mind. Win or lose, they tell themselves to be pragmatic. The politician must be a realist if he or she wants to win. And if he or she loses, then he or she must spend or do more next time. And while it must be said that selling one’s vote is one of the poorest things a poor person can do. What of it? That is precisely why the poor person sells his vote. It is because he or she is poor.
But since we did not sell our votes then we would be excused to feel bad because of all this. And we would ask ourselves: However could things become better for us? However could we put a stop to all these? We would of course be of the middle class, educated and working hard to get over difficult times. But what can we do?
The politicians will never stop buying votes to win. That, put simply, is just the culture of politics here. The poor will never stop selling their votes for that is simply the culture of poverty, the culture of the fringes and the marginal. We can say all that we want. But in the end, they will not stop selling their votes unless they stopped being poor.
And we, who did not sell our votes, might come to realize we too are as marginalized as they. We wish for the educated and well-informed vote, the vote of conscience. We dream of a better life. But even so, we know we can have only this: This vision inside a public school classroom.
Look all about us. Contemplate the state of the room itself. Poor children build their hopes and dreams here as we must now also do, at least for this day. This classroom is the true state of the nation. This is the vision of all of us. Here, we, quite like the little children absent for this day cast our dreams in ink.
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