Because casting a vote legitimises the system. When you vote, you’re implicitly giving your approval of the current political system and players – the flawed vote counting mechanism, the unrepresentative parties and their policies and the choice that you are presented with.
The available parties are all equally guilty of massive hypocrisy, shameless spin and populist headline-grabbing, cheap political point-scoring and seem generally only interested in power for power’s sake. I don’t trust any of them to do the things I believe in: protect the poor and vulnerable (and the environment), prioritise the wellbeing of the people over the rich and powerful, not swagger round the world bombing, dividing, invading and drone-striking, stop mass surveillance of the population, redistribute wealth, act with long-sighted integrity at home and abroad, ensure equality in health and education, and not become corrupt and spend all their fucking free cash on moats.
If I was to vote, I’d vote Green – but there’s no Green candidate in our area. My choice is between Labour (started two wars, now pathetically racing the Tories to the outer edges of the right-wing), the Tories (have and always will be the party of the rich and don’t care about anyone else, pursuing a destructive course of privatisation and fragmentation of health, education and everything else you care to name) and the Lib Dems (I foolishly voted for Clegg last time, like a dick – look where that got us). Oh, and the BNP and other fringe loonies.
If you vote for any one of those parties you are responsible for any and all actions that they take. That’s the nature of one big fat non-divisible vote. Oh, you voted for the Lib Dems because you thought they might support alternative voting? Well now they want to invade Syria. Whoops! You voted for Labour, and now they’re saying they agree with the Conservatives on fiscal policy? Oh dear.
What are you going to do? March in the streets? Good luck with that. If you think that politicians give a shit about what you think then you’re mistaken – just ask the millions who marched against the Iraq War.
The current political system is set up to ensure that a small number of very mainstream, very conservative (with a small c) career politicians retain power and that very little will ever change. To vote within this system is to give your approval of it, and I want no part of it. Spoiling a ballot is fine if you want to waste a vote: in the last UK General Election all of 0.28% of voters spoiled their ballots – and if the people in charge are already ignoring the 35% of the population who don’t vote do you really think they give a shit about less than half a percent?
What I want: a different voting system – something more like a true democracy, or at least a “none of the above” option so I can express dissatisfaction in a legitimate way. Politicians I can trust, who act with integrity on behalf of the people. A government that serves the people, and not a parliament that tramples on civil liberties at home and abroad. And frankly, I don’t see how voting will achieve any of that.