Expressions of anti-establishment sentiment among the poor, the disenfranchised, and the educated are generally expected by the authorities, but signs of broadly based middle-class agitation are taken more seriously. Rumor has it that after each election, wherever it is held in the world, suspicious ballot papers are kept aside by the secret services for further scrutiny in the ongoing fight against open-mindedness, independent inquiry, and critical thinking, more popularly known as the ‘War on Terror’. In this way, grassroots radicalism, antisocial behavior, and even moderate disquiet in the privacy of one’s home can hopefully be foiled. The ongoing commitment to austerity in many nations has opened up pockets of discontent, including but not confined to the expression of youthful exuberance on YouTube and satirical social commentary in the edgier comedy clubs. Every now and then, documentation of one of the more extreme instances of middle-class fervor leaks out. Today, sadly, is one of those days.
It is believed that the message reproduced below was delivered in an ordinary middle-class suburb, scribbled on an otherwise conventionally completed ballot paper at the most recent general election. The pencil employed was HB, procured from a nearby stationery supply store and apparently smuggled in and out by the instigator. Be assured that the authorities are treating its implications with the utmost seriousness. Anti-terrorist units have been placed on alert, with nap time suspended until further notice.
As you can see, you have secured my vote today, but allow me to indicate that it was a close call, and if you fail to lift your game in the following years, it may cross my mind not to vote for you, but somebody like you, at the next election. Thanks to you and your colleagues, my living standards have declined steadily, and the employment prospects of my children and, I suspect, their future children, are as remote as an unexplored rainforest on a drizzly, overcast day, which, I imagine, would be most days. Increasingly, I have little interest in community, my own future, or life in general.
And, yet, despite all your missteps in these directions, here I am, still alive, standing in not altogether decrepit condition in this voting booth, not so embittered as to be incapable of casting a vote in your favor. I do so in grudging acknowledgment that things might yet be worse under the governance of your opponent. There is still more that could be done to render my life, and the lives of those I still manage to care for, meaningless, and to deliver despair as total as it is permanent. I trust that you will refrain from doing these things all in one term. If so, I will acquiesce meekly to your whims, as I always have done, and as I always will do.
Even so, consider yourself on notice.
Potentially swinging voter”