With a general election around the corner, I find myself increasingly fascinated and engaged with the political world. How I’m going to be voting I’m actually (no doubt to the dismay of my seemingly opinionated Facebook friends) undecided. I’m still trying to separate fact from fiction. Determining what’s propaganda, what’s bullshit and what’s the harsh reality is no mean feat.
Irrespective of this, will I be voting? Abso-bloody-lutely. To be frank, if you don’t, then you’re a fool.
Why should you vote?
1. Because it’s your right.
Not everybody in this unjust and sometimes unkind world has that right. Democracy isn’t a given for each and every person on this planet. The fact that we can vote and make a free choice without repercussions is a wonderful thing. We shouldn’t take it for granted when so many citizens of other countries aren’t able to exercise a democratic vote. If you’re female then it’s all the more essential that you vote. Some women (-not so long ago really) literally died for your right to vote. They fought and campaigned so that you could have your say. We fought to earn this right- so make it count.
2. Because if you didn’t you’d be denying yourself a voice.
I honestly cannot comprehend why someone would choose not to have a say when it comes to something that affects their lives. You’d want a voice as to the colour of paint if you were redecorating your bedroom, where to eat if you were going to a restaurant with friends and the type of person you’re looking for if you were going on a date. So why deny yourself a chance to speak when it comes to politics?
If it’s because you dislike all the competing parties then spoil your ballot. It has to be recorded in any event and you’ll still be acknowledged. If it’s because you don’t care or don’t understand who stands for what then educate yourselves. The amount of information on the internet is unbelievable so ignorance is inexcusable. If it’s because you don’t think your vote matters then take a second to look at historic election results. Look at how slim margins have been in previous votes and tell me your say doesn’t count. (By that reasoning you’d also never become vegetarian or ever buy a lottery ticket!) You count and so does your vote.
3. Because if the outcome is unfavourable you’ll have no right to complain.
If you vote and it doesn’t go your way then you’ll be entitled to whinge and moan for the next five years. You can despair and wallow in self pity. If you don’t vote however then you’ll have no right. You can’t complain about an outcome you actively did nothing to alter.
4. Because politics is uncertain.
With every new political scandal and with citizens’ forever changing interests- politics is no guaranteed thing. “Safe seats” aren’t always that safe. Polls during election campaigns don’t always get it right. If your chosen party isn’t doing that great in the polls it’s all the more imperative that you vote for them. The only vote that counts is the real thing so whilst polls may be an indication they don’t always get it right.
If you’re not entirely convinced of the uncertainty of politics argument then just look at the last twelve months. Who could have foreseen that the United Kingdom would leave the European Union? A decision determined by a simple referendum and the votes of the people. Who could have imagined that just over the pond, Donald Trump would become the President of the USA? That Donald Trump would be democratically elected by the people of America?
Emotional and uncertain human beings vote so it’s no wonder that the outcome isn’t always an exact science. We all have different interests and different things make different people tick so it’s inevitable that politics can be so unpredictable. At this exciting time in politics why wouldn’t you make a difference because clearly anything is possible?
5. Because it’s actually important.
This isn’t a trivial decision. The government has an influence on; taxes, education, housing, the NHS, the law, tuition fees, immigration, foreign policy, privacy on the internet etc. They have a say on just about everything.
What outfit to wear next weekend, which sandwich to eat over lunch and which country you want to visit over the summer holidays are all decisions that pale into insignificance. Why have a greater hand in making these than deciding something that will affect every aspect of your life?
A Prime Minister can serve a term of five years. Five years is a long time. It’s longer than a university degree takes and longer than the duration between a leap year or the Olympic Games. A huge amount can change in that time. Not least the fact that you’ll age. Perhaps the twenty three year old version of yourself will wish that eighteen year old you better represented your interests? Think about the issues that may affect you in that time frame- maybe you’ll be attending university within five years. Perhaps you’ll need healthcare or you’ll be due to cash in on your pension. Don’t just vote for you right now- vote for the person you’ll be in five years’ time too.
Two years ago a poll revealed that a greater number of young people voted in the X Factor final than did in the election that year. Take a second to digest that. More people voted for a singer to win a reality TV show than voted for a party to represent their interests in government. It’s absurd and nonsensical. It would be an almost amusing statistic if it wasn’t such a terrifying thought.
Go read, watch, discuss and vote. You matter…and so does your opinion.