I'm a democrat - in that I subscribe to the idea of free citizenry and the right to vote. I live in the UAE, where I am not a citizen and where there is no real tradition of voting, but in the UK, where I was raised, voting has long been a tradition.
Or rather an ever decreasing tradition. There has been a major shift away from voting in all the major Western democracies since the 1960s with the exception perhaps of places like Australia (where benefits of citizenry and the duty to vote are closely linked - even then, it's not what I would call a free choice, which is what one would expect of a democracy.) Yoshihiro Francis Fukuyama writes in Trust: The Social Virtues and The Creation of Prosperity that social welfare and government involvement in people's lives reduces voter participation. When your bellies are full and the problems seem far away, there's less inclination to vote. If there was a hypothetical election on the Gulf, where nationals are well taken care of - from cradle to grave - I wonder if people would just vote for the status quo? In the UK, the increasing interference in peoples lives by the government has not gotten any easier in all the time that I've known. I wonder, at times, if a society like that can actually call itself truly free?
Political Blur: Falsum in uno, falsum in omnibus*
Distant governments, perhaps, are better at motivating people to want change. The UK, voted this week and recieved in return a hung parliament. No outright majority and a scramble by the political parties to form coalitions, partnerships and to play a game of watchmanship and secret meetings. To my distant eyes, it might be fair to say that voter turn out may be influenced (as well as by busy lives) by the perception that at the top it makes no difference. Be it Labour, Conservative or Liberal Democrat, they will find ways of interfering in individual lives. Political choice is like choosing between McPlasticFoodBurgers and McMoreoftheSame. I guess it was easier when the parties represented widely differing philosophies, but in today's politically safe world of middle-ground electioneering, plastic food for plastic people is the sole political offering.
Mmm ... political blur ... not a very exciting menu, I think.
* false in one thing, false in everything