Remember Joe the Plumber from 2008? He inadvertently became the face of middle-class America, a trending metaphor for the votes that both Obama and McCain needed to win the election. As it turns out, India has their very own Joe the Plumber, and his name is Mahant Bharatdas. The only difference is that Mahant doesn’t dive under the sink and act surprised when your wife unbuttons his pants while you’re at work (“oh no, not again!”). Instead, he watches over the Asiatic lions, of which only 600 or so remain. He is the lionkeeper of the Gir forest. And he cares very much about voting.
In India’s 2014 parliamentary elections, 66.4% of eligible voters took to the polls to cast their ballots. By contrast, just over 47% of eligible Americans voted in the 2016 elections, and that was a 50-year high. When it comes to democracy, we don’t really give much of a fuck. Why would we? Far easier to contribute to the process by whining on Facebook/twitter. I’m not a ballot thumper either; full transparency, I didn’t vote in 2012. I know it’s my “civic duty,” but when you live in a state that’s going blue or red no matter what, “civic duty” loses out to “foregone conclusion” every time. I guess if I really cared, I’d move to Iowa. lol jk obv.
But Mahant Bharatdas has it made in the shade. Democracy comes to him. Five voting officials and two cops trekked 21 miles into a lion-infested jungle to secure his one vote. That would make even the most hardened anarchist trade his molotov cocktail for a pen and a voting booth. And of course the India fluff news media is cutting together feel-good tributes to his incredible patriotism, lauding his dogmatic participation over the last twenty years…
Yep, I was thinking that too, Abhishek. In any case, I hope that by the next election, there are more lions at least.