notes, finds & fragments of research
The moments of me expressing my opinion about politics are rare, and I do not intend to make a habit out of this, but this time I will make an exception; because I’m truly saddened by the current state of my native country, and I have made a decision I never thought to be an option before.
Nearly fifteen years ago, the Kingdom of the Netherlands handed me my constitutional right as a voter in state-elections. In the years before, during my lessons of history, constitutional and civil law, and social studies, I was told that with this vote I could influence the domestic affairs of the nation and its position in the world. When taught like this to teenagers, it sounds extremely desirable. For a people that have never known the right to vote, it sounds fabulastic. But when you say this to an adult, who has been able to practise this right for at least ten years, they will laugh, or cry, before returning to their own daily affairs.
From the way someone expresses their feelings about the right to vote, you can derive what kind of person it is; in the same way as looking at someone’s books. They, who defend the right to vote with full-blown passion, are idealists. Those, who treat it like their tax form, are acquiescently forlorn. The ones who don’t practise their right at all are either indifferent or have already wearily passed the aforementioned stages. This could be considered rather cynical, but in my humble opinion this is the model of labelling we have reached during the last years; and today it is more clearly than ever before.
Last Spring the Cabinet Rutte collapsed. The entire country celebrated this event. Again, there was hope for the opposition. The cabinet-parties were finally released from the stranglehold of a minority government which balanced on the parliamentary support of one party, a situation unprecedented in the Netherlands. And the one responsible partially changed the political course from xenophobic to financially disastrous. Joy to the world.
As I write this, the electoral campaign is in full swing, and more than ever – or perhaps I’m just paying more attention to it at the moment, I feel a deep nauseous feeling as I follow the debates and read the newspapers. In a state of shock, I wonder: ‘Has my tolerant native Holland really changed this much, during my years travelling and living abroad? Has it really been degraded to a nation that suffocates its education and elderly/health-care; where culture has been demoted to a hobby; where loud-mouthed xenophobia has been giving a permanent platform; and where politicians have gleefully allowed to be forced to practise an infantile form of debate? Has it really? Thank heavens for the head-of-state, a constitutional monarch whom has proven herself to be the only stable factor, preserving the country from really becoming the laughing stock of Europe. My sympathy goes to her these coming months.
Suddenly I find myself in the same corner as the older generations, contemplating the old days where political debate had substance, without senseless one-liners, clapometer populism, and without the coveted ‘likes’, ad-hoc polls, tweets, and suchlike. All the debates I have heard thusfar were freed from any form of intellect. Not one of the party leaders has had the courage to honestly say that there is a problem, and that their party doesn’t have the simple solution. All peoples living in a democracy should at least demand, or have the desire, to be taken seriously. We have somehow lost that. There is a choice. One could try to fight his way through the loudly-opinionated crowds, demanding to be heard; or one abstains from all that in the idle hope that perhaps one day someone will approach you and inquire after your well thought-out opinion. Those who seek the middle path step into politics themselves.
Probably I have been away for too long, and missed the boat. I don’t feel at home anymore in this country, where the windows are covered from the inside with national newspapers – ruled by an egocentric moral. In a matter of weeks, I have found myself joining the ranks of the last category of the electorate. Am I now violating my own democratic rights? Not in my opinion. I am just tired of giving my support to the least incompetent, to a political government that is swayed by the issues of the day, which favours populism over logic. Let the person, who can see the value in choosing one party and representative from a list of twenty political parties and a grand total of eight hundred and thirty-seven candidates, that will achieve nothing in this country that has stopped thinking, now raise his hand.
Because of all this, I hereby solemnly swear: I will not complain about the next Dutch government and about how they will govern the country for the next four, probably less, years. After nearly fifteen years of being a member of the electorate, I, as a descendant of hundreds of years of governing politicians and diplomats, am breaking my family’s tradition: I will not make use of my basic right to vote, this month. Not with anger but deception, and because I refuse to sacrifice my birth-right as a thinking human being, just to join the clapping crowds.