My bad 5HTTLPR gene is responsible, not me. If I had the right version of the gene, I might have had better gambling instincts.
I have voted in every national election since I became eligible, barring the one time when the circumstance was extenuating. However, every wager I placed with my vote has failed me. Even the law of averages was miscarried, and the candidates, parties or issues I voted for over the years have never, not once, met my expectations.
Undeterred and armed with my carefully saved vote, I venture again, to place my come-back bet on Monday, 29th April 2019. I must wing it this time, for if I lose, the 5HTTLPR has potential of making me suffer anxiety and depression. This failure could trigger a chronic gambler’s despair that might last longer than the usual remorse of five years.
The first time I voted, it was for the candidate’s card. It is individuals who make up a party, I said to myself, and if the right individuals get voted to power, the country would have better governance as a whole, irrespective of the party at the center. I was ecstatic at his win and applauded myself on my well-structured logic. Sadly though, the party that won the mandate at the Center was different from that of my victorious candidate. I never did see the ‘good’ candidate again. His voice and other good voices like his were drowned in the noise of the ‘majority’. The vote-bet that I, and many like me placed, got squandered.
The next time the slots were open after five years, I reasoned that voting for an individual is flawed, like choosing a lone bird instead of a flock. For an individual’s voice to be heard, the voice of the larger herd seemed essential. I used learnings from my previous wrongly cast vote, and pressed the ballot button for the local party that I thought could strongly address local issues. Change, drop by drop, is the best way to bring positive change in the country, I surmised. Second time unlucky, the party that was given the mandate to govern the country was different from the party I voted for, and my vote and the party I voted for, both got the boot.
After another restless five years, I trepidatiously extracted my well preserved vote in the next elections and staked it on ‘issues’. I sought out election promise-charts, and found issues that concerned me and the nation, for I knew it made good sense. Issues matter to people, and people matter to political parties, so this time the Play Slots were sure to churn me a bumper.
I celebrated as the party I voted for came to win a stunning majority. But some gamblers have everything but luck. The issues I voted for were vetoed, diluted or delayed, and none of the issues I thought mattered were moved to legislation. No promise was kept, in fact many blatantly backtracked. Some new issues which were taken up were even totally alien to my voting agenda. My vote-coffer empty again, my IBS working up, I took to deep introspection.
Coming Monday, when the voting booths open yet one more time, I have decided to be among the first of valiant voters to cast my vote. Failures, if studied, can teach, and I think my fruitless votes have lessons for me, and also for others who will stake their votes this elections. This time, armed with instructions of my past, I have realized the fundamental mistake I made each time. I now have a clearer direction on how to win with my vote.
A country, a collective of its citizens, is an extraordinarily strong force. It is, yet, also very vulnerable. And it is mostly it is vulnerable to those who govern it. The government is a guardian of the nation and if the guardianship is benign and benevolent, the country and its citizens build better relationships, kinship, mutual respect and act cohesively as a nation. By the same logic, if the nations’ guardians are divisive, manipulative and jingoistic, the same power can be malignant, creating a parochial, suspicious, hate-filled and violent flavor to the nation.
When I vote this year, I will not for a candidate’s credentials, or for the local party which may make a difference, nor for issues alone. I will, instead, vote for the one party I imagine as a good guardian of India. But I will take as much care as I would if I were choosing a guardian for a vulnerable, pre-teen child. I would want a guardian who could help create an inclusive culture, values of acceptance, respectful, fairness, love, truth, courage, positivity and kindness, characteristics I would want my vulnerable ward to grow up with. These are also the very same qualities I want to see in my country and its citizens.
So my vote is for a good guardian of the country, one who will nurture a cordial, filial and yet strong India. I, however, keep strongly in my mind that the country is as vulnerable as a frail and delicate child, and that the choice of a good guardian will determine her future. If you are a disillusioned voter like me, then when voting replace the vulnerable child’s image with that of the country and your vote will find the right guardian. So will mine.
And this year, without doubt, the law of averages is more in my favor than ever before.