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31. Emptying the Corridors of Power

"The mystery of government is not how Washington works but how to make it stop."

P.J. O'Rourke
Parliament of Whores
The old adage goes: "Don't vote, it only encourages them." True, but many nation states now make voting a mandatory requirement, and those that do not will still assume the mantle of "the majority" when less than a quarter of the population have supposedly given them a mandate. I say supposedly, because the balance is nearly always tipped by people voting against someone else rather than for anyone. Many of today's non-voters do so (or don't do so) out of disgust with the whole charade, but the system just counts them as apathetic, ignoring their non-vote. The system meanwhile just trundles on as if everything was going according to plan, and a working party is set up to find ways of getting more people to appreciate the value of their vote.

Many of England's new breed of fluffy activists have found ways to enmesh and embroil the state in its own convoluted laws and regulations, which it must regularly break in order to deal with the protesters. Notice how often the charges are dropped shortly after arrests are made. Perhaps there is a way to use the sacred "right" to vote itself as the tool with which we disempower the state. Perhaps there is a way to retract the people's mandate altogether. What would happen if there were a way to vote against the politicians themselves, rather than just picking one from the selection?

Well, I did have an idea on this some years ago, the memory of which was revived in the writing of this book. It arose as a result of a commitment I made to my eccentric friend Rainbow George one night. Somehow he got me, a dedicated non-politico, to agree to launch a political party of some sort at his next Rainbow Alliance press conference. There was a local by-election involved, and George kept phoning to remind me of my promise.

As the event drew near, I put my mind to the problem one evening and drafted the skeleton of a platform for which it would seem worth casting a vote. Then, it was named the No-Candidate Party, and I was "Gregory Sams - not standing for Parliament." I printed up a press release and cards with "Political De-activist" printed under my name. It got a mention in a few newspapers and a radio interview but never went any further at the time.

It could be renamed as the Bare Seat Party or the NOTA Party (None Of The Above). The party headquarters would have a binding standard form of agreement signed with any prospective candidate. This single-sheet agreement goes something along the lines of: "I undertake, if elected, never to attend a session of parliament nor vote on any issue in any way, nor in any way perform any of the duties of office. I undertake never to encash any payments forthcoming as wages, salary or remuneration from the state, nor claim any travel rights, expenses or jobs for relatives, friends or strangers."

Each vote for the BARE SEAT PARTY would be a vote for one less politician, sending shudders down the corridors of power, followed by a disturbing tremor should a single seat in Parliament be emptied in this way. It is a vote against all of the parties currently vying for control. It also stops anyone from assuming that you don't vote because you are just too lazy or apathetic to take part in the exciting process of choosing a bunch of new faces to create yet more legislation and break unkeepable promises for the next however-many years.

This new party is not presented as some sort of ultimate technique for unravelling the state but as a simple and effective part of getting the process rolling - a catalyst and a spur to other more important and relevant action that is not even determinable at this time. It could well prompt the business and general community to initiate more construction of working alternatives to the 20% of the state's work that is essential to our society. One less politician is no big deal in itself, but if brought about by the vote and not a bullet or a bomb then it would be something genuinely new in the political world, and a sign to its practitioners that they had better start looking for real jobs in the medium term future.
"What politics is really about is a lot of mirrors and blue smoke. People have power when other people think they have power. If they don't think that, then you're an empty vessel."

Whych Fowler, American politician quoted 1978
The suggestion presented here makes your vote send a powerful signal to the state and guarantees that you will never be mis-represented by your candidate. A vote for the Bare Seat Party sends the strongest possible message to the state that we are fed up with their antics and that their power is receding.

No Bare Seat Party exists at the time of writing and this author is neither familiar with, nor competent at, such organization building. The concept is very simple and could in theory be applied anywhere in the world. I have no idea of how funding for deposits and whatever else would be obtained, and hope that anyone undertaking such an important venture would find a means to profit from its success.

Disclaimer: For their own health and happiness, as well as ours, all readers are advised never to get mixed up in politics, and never to run for public office.

1998


Click for details of a live trial in the UK's 2001 General Election.
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From the book "Uncommon Sense - The State is Out of Date"
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