|Who's afraid of RON?|
Image by Russ
I love RON. He’s on every Green ballot paper, although I’ve yet to see him win anything. I’d like him to stand at every election, for every seat at every level both in politics and in every democratic organisation out there. RON really is that awesome, and we all need him.
RON stands simply for “Re-Open Nominations”. This is a really important addition to our political and voting choices. If you’re looking at two candidates on the ballot sheet, and you don’t fancy either of them, you currently have the options of voting for the one you find least objectionable (and so voting for them), not voting (and thus being assumed to be apathetic by those in power) or spoiling your paper (which will not be taken seriously as a protest). You might, in a desperate act of protest vote for some awful, no-hope party you don’t even like just to send a message to the establishment. (Am I allowed to cough and wonder about UKIP in this context?)
I expect Russell Brand would show up at a polling station if he could vote for RON and express his disgust with the system in a way that would be hard to ignore. If RON wins, you have to do what he says – re-open nominations, and find some better candidates and some better ideas. RON could really upset the status quo, and give a voice to people who are not currently feeling represented.
In democratic organisations, it is often the case that the person who comes forward gets the job. If there’s only one candidate, you have, by default, voted them in. This means that people who lack the skills, or who have very dodgy attitudes can work their way into positions of influence because they’ve been elected in by default, not by choice. Having RON on the paper means it is possible to say no, and it is understood that you can say no, and should say no if the person isn’t up to scratch, and that stepping up is not the only necessary qualification. RON demands that we think a bit more about things and take more responsibility.
If you have no choice but to vote in what’s there by default, you don’t get democracy. You get the same narrow array of people and opinions, and you get to pick from what you are told you can pick from, and often that’s the choice between one posh idiot in a suit, and another posh idiot in a suit. I’ve included one by way of illustration, because for me, this is what an absence of RON in our lives looks like. RON clearly doesn’t look like David Cameron. He looks heroic, but also benevolent. More of a Nelson Mandela or a Ghandi, he’s there if you need him, but he isn’t hungry for power. He’s there to give you a voice, not to take something from you.
We should have RON on every ballot sheet.