Rivlin's message as elections kick off: Israel’s democracy needs you

We need to be honest with ourselves. There is no other important part of our lives that we put in other people’s hands.

President Reuven Rivlin (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
President Reuven Rivlin
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
It never fails to shock me when people say they are not planning on going to the polling station on election day. They won’t be voting. Mostly, they tell me they have had enough, that they are disappointed, that the situation is depressing, that they are angry at the system and disgusted by politicians. Sometimes, they just say they don’t believe anything will change. But I will never give up trying to convince people to go and vote, despite it all.
I understand the feelings that build up between one election campaign and the next, but absolutely cannot agree with the conclusion. Disappointment and despair are not the solution. Apathy is the enemy of democracy. We must not give in to them. Every time, hundreds of thousands of voters stay home. Sometimes, more than a million. These are silent votes which will have no expression and whose positions will not be represented. This is an unacceptable state of affairs.
We need to be honest with ourselves. There is no other important part of our lives that we put in other people’s hands. Not when it comes to affairs of the heart, or our financial decisions or our working lives.
Israeli democracy needs you.
Israeli democracy needs a torrent of voting slips.
Israeli democracy needs your faith in it, today.
I have voted in Israel for over 60 years, but I will never forget the first time I voted in January 1949 when everyone wore white to celebrate the Festival of Israeli Democracy, a holiday for the State of Israel. Even today, election day is a festival for me.
Around us, millions of men and women are fighting and dying for the right to live in democracy, and I am both grateful and full of appreciation for the generations that went before us and worked so hard to fulfil that dream for us.
Go to the voting station. If you have children, take them with you and show them what democracy is. For them, for all of us, for the country.
Happy Democracy Day to you all, my fellow citizens!
The writer is president of the State of Israel.