In the Western world the electing of persons to lead countries had its genesis in democracy which dates back to Grecian times. Over the past year we have seen elections in many Caribbean countries and the norm, sadly, is that these elections have had a pattern of violence, particularly in some of the larger territories. Hitherto, this has not manifested itself in the Federation to any large extent and we are pleased By this. People say many things but seldom transpose these mouthings into any sort of gruesome action.A person’s right to vote is a sacred thing and should always be recognised as such. One hears on many occasions statements like: “My one vote isn’t going to make a difference,” but it does. People have won or lost By one vote, so we urge and encourage every eligible person to go out there and do your civic duty.Elections in modern mass societies are extraordinarily complex phenomena. Obviously, in any aspiring democracy, elections are the indispensable link between citizens and government. But how close a link? At base, elections allow citizens to ‘throw the rascals out,” to change governments ” By ballots rather than bullets.” However, elections carry a deeper meaning for democracy. It constitutes self-respect for everybody, an understanding of one’s dignity. Self-respect is a function of self-direction and self-control, of the choice and living of the life one thinks best. But how can people control their lives if government, which potentially controls so much of life, is beyond them? Clearly, popular government is essential. One great thinker put it like this: “Everybody must help govern: The knowledge of self-direction is acquired in no other way than the having of it in the important affairs of life” Thus, to many people, self-government is an ideal of the highest significance. But it is more than an ideal. Democracy is also a method, and the method is voting in popular, free, competitive, meaningful elections. Citizens of a democratic government have two very important duties: to inform themselves, and to vote. Crucially, though, these two are not necessarily linked; the duty to vote is no less present if one is uninformed, and failing to learn about the issues does not let you off the hook for not voting.At the same time, this knowledge that they need to vote whether they’re informed or not should not decrease the relevance of informing themselves. And if an uninformed person goes and votes, that just means they have neglected one duty rather than two. For democracy to work, its populace needs to work at understanding the issues and electing representatives that actually represent rather than just having pretty campaign literature.But don’t stay home just because you wish you were better informed. Go out and cast your ballot in a peaceful and orderly manner.
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