I can absolutely understand why many people around my age don't want to vote in the upcoming elections, as long as they can understand why they deserve a smack and a dose of Susan B Anthony: suffrage is the pivotal right. If you opt out of the one effort that makes you a relevant civic entity, you have forfeited your right to complain about anything the government does, and you have betrayed all the other young people who do want the right to be heard. Generations of suffragettes, civil rights protesters and trades unionists did not fight and die so that you could sit on the sofa thinking about how the government never listens to you.
But if you're stil parrotting the line that voting doesn't make a difference and politicians are all the same - implying that you've never actually looked too hard at John Redwood- there is now an alternative. You can give your vote to someone who does care, someone in another country affected by Britain's policies on trade sanctions, climate change and military interventionism, someone who doesn't have a voice in these elections, but who just might deserve one. No, really.
The Give Your Vote campaign is one of the maddest, most mind-boggling, most potentially revolutionary ideas to come out of the internet age in Britain so far. The concept is simple: if you don't see the point of using your vote yourself, as is the case for many Disaffected Yoofs, then you can sign up to recieve notification of how one real person in Ghana, Bangladesh or Afghanistan would vote in your place, if they could. And then you get off your arse and you cast that vote. Due to launch on Monday, this drive to combat voter apathy and build international solidarity has already gained several hundred Facebook followers, many of whom appear to be more than caps-happy flamewar faff-merchants, and several of whom have already pledged to donate their unused votes to people in developing countries whose livelihoods, homes and families have been imperilled by the decisions of British governments.
The scheme seems to be surprisingly thought through, with manifestos and focus groups in each of the target countries and an open-source system based on the efforts of volunteers to co-ordinate the proxy votes on election day. I spoke to the Give Your Vote campaigns organiser, May Abdalla, who is evangelical about creating a climate of global democratic involvement in an age where politics is disconnected from the reality of young people's lives:
All very sweet and utopian. But aren't they worried about being slung in jail for electoral fraud? "It's entirely legal, because we are not forcing anyone to vote in a particular way - jut encouraging them to allow others to use their vote as a platform," explained Abdalla. "Anyway, David Cameron tells us who to vote for all the time."
Most media outlets I've spoken to have dismissed Give Your Vote as a deranged student movement, and that, more than anything, is what excites me about the scheme. As a rule, any idea that makes nice people from both sides of the bourgeois political spectrum immediately and furiously dismiss you as a mental person generally has currency, because it almost always threatens unexamined orthodoxies. Orthodoxies like geography as the sole organising force for solidarity and fellow feeling. Orthodoxies like the inalienable right of the West to operate for its own profit or pride in the third world without being held to account by citizens of developing countries. Orthodoxies like East and West - them and us - rich and poor.
I will not be taking part directly, because I'm already planning to use my own vote to assist one of the liberal PPCs in Leyton and Wanstead. But if you're not planning to vote yourself, I absolutely encourage you to sign up to the Give Your Vote scheme. If you can't be arsed to tick one box once every five years to hold your government to account, you now no longer have the option of whinging that it won't make any difference, because if even a few hundred votes can be cast by proxy in this election by people in countries affected by British policymaking, that will send an important message about international solidarity. I say this as a British patriot - yes, I'm on the left, and I'm a patriot and I'm proud, a patriot who believes in no borders. I love the British, and I also love my planet, and I believe that global thinking and global policymaking are the only paradigms that will count in a world that is increasingly connected, facing more and more problems that cross international borders, and approaching the singularity threshold. I believe in an international struggle for the liberation of workers, of women, of the disposessed. And lots of other young people believe in it, too.
The Give Your Vote scheme is exciting because it's a whole new way of thinking about politics and online democracy, and that's frightening for the old people who are currently sitting on all the power and all the money in this country. It's frightening enough that this time round, Give Your Vote's impact will remain small, and they will doubtless be dismissed by everyone as a bunch of idealistic, utopian, lunatic do-gooders, which is precisely what they are. But so were the first suffragettes; so were the early civil rights activists; so were the Diggers, the Levellers, and all the weirdos and fringe gangs in this country and elsewhere who dared to dream of a freer, fairer world.
Most of the people reading this blog only have rights today because someone, tens or hundreds of years ago, had the crazy idea that we deserved them, and was prepared to be dismissed as crazy and hounded as a dangerous freak because of that powerful, paradigm-bended idea. Someone always has to do it first. And maybe, just maybe, this is another one of those first times.