My son, three years away from voting age, is nevertheless aware of what’s going on.

Yesterday he recounted me an exchange he had witnessed on

– Hey dude, are you going to vote? (“Dude” has just turned 18, the first in their gang to be able to vote)

– No! The way I see it nowadays going to vote is like being asked to choose what kind of shit you’ll be served for dinner. Why bother?

– I think understand what you mean. You compare a country with a bunch of guys having to eat at the same cafeteria who finally have an opportunity to choose between chefs/menus but only to  discover that the available candidates are unpalatable. Rather pertinent comparison, specially after finally understanding that ‘negative voting’ (voting for the challenger only as a punishment for the incumbent, knowing from the beginning that both are equivalent) is not really a punishment for the incumbent but a carte blanche for the next incumbent and a shot in his own foot for the voter.

– That’s exactly what I feel. Finally someone who understands me…

– Well, I might understand you but I’d still go to the polling station. Mainly because I don’t agree with you about all candidates being worthless – even if you don’t get to vote for the winner nor for the second best by choosing someone in earnest your vote conveys a clear message, ‘this is exactly what I  want’.
Even if I didn’t like anyone I’d still go there and strike out everybody on the ballot box, just to send everyone of them a stiff warning: ‘I don’t trust anyone of you but since I care strongly about my fate I’m going to watch closely whatever you’ll do from now on!’
Going back to your example with the cafeteria forfeiting the chance to express your opinion is beyond letting others to decide what kind of shit you’re going to enjoy.
After all not voting is a cross between a ‘blanket approval’ for what ever is going to happen and admitting that ‘I don’t care enough to move my butt to the polling station’. And in this case you shouldn’t be asking yourself anymore ‘what happened to these politicians that made them so callous?’