Our Democracy's Thin Lifeblood

Election time is now with us, and no fragrance of spring is in the air - it's as if the rainy days refuse to disappear. Each person has his own candidate, each his own distress.

Hope is such that it is destined to be disappointed, but without hope it's impossible to live. It is reignited each time anew. And there are no better days for new hope than election time, before a changing of the guard.

Election time is now with us, and no fragrance of spring is in the air - it's as if the rainy days refuse to disappear. Each person has his own candidate, each his own distress. After all, anyone who votes for Benjamin Netanyahu does not really expect great things from him and only barely expects small things; voters will not go to the polls with a song in their hearts, their eyes lifted to the breaking dawn.

People who vote for Tzipi Livni are not really convinced that she is their heart's desire; their expectations are lower than a snake's belly. And anyone who votes for Ehud Barak does not consider him a lighthouse at whom shipwrecked hopes are directed on their way to a safe harbor. Even if we bang with a hammer all day long, no spark of excitement will arise. Elections that are so close seem so far away.

There will be signs of apathy. The latest polls indicate that the turnout this time will be lower than usual, and young people in particular will be less likely to participate. They are already being attacked by a self-righteous group of preachers calling on them, the pampered and rebellious children, to repent their evil ways. You must not stay at home, they are scolded, democracy requires even a bridegroom to emerge from his room, a bride from her wedding canopy.

They should feel ashamed, the indifferent and alienated, though the fault is not theirs but that of the parties and their candidates; the parties are worn out and the candidates are secondhand. Go find the differences between all the "strong ones." If that's the supply, it's no wonder the demand is minimal. The blame lies with the politicians rather than with us, who have had it up to our necks. So anyone who waves a white ballot is not signaling surrender, he is signaling protest.

We are tired of voting for lack of choice as the least of all evils. They say there is an alternative in the world, so why isn't there one here of all places? Barack Obama was not elected as a default choice but as an active choice, not as the least of all evils but as the very best there is.

We no longer have big eyes, and our hopes are not sky-high. We make do with little, we have become accustomed to doing things small, and we are willing to give thanks from the bottom of our hearts even for slight changes. A few small samplings: Will any of the leading candidates throw that Avichai Rontzki, the Israel Defense Force's chief rabbi, down the stairs of the army rabbinate for turning the IDF into the Revolutionary Guards? Will anyone give an order to immediately expand and safeguard the hospital in Ashkelon, and stick the bones of the dead down the throats of all the necrophobes?

And will the large parties announce that they will not accept Avigdor Lieberman's fascism? Even Dan Meridor's work as a righteous man is not being done by others - even he is silent, as if he didn't hear the thudding of the boots and didn't see the color of the shirts. As if Arcadi Gaydamak's affairs came first.

Hope is the lifeblood of democracy; without it there is no revival. Whereas apathy endangers it, it is one step before despair. Were our 2,000-year-old hope not so eternal and lofty, we could have used it in our daily lives, even in small doses.