Monday, 20 April 2015

To Vote or Not to Vote?

Should we vote?

The general election is fast approaching here in the UK and I feel bombarded every day by what feels like political pouting, each party seeking to woo us with their political persuasion.

It seems to me there is a genuine feel of disillusionment towards Westminster and the political system that dwells there. Because of this disillusionment and a growing leaning away from Labour and Conservative, we have been 'invited' as the general public into the 'lives' of our leaders and parliamentary candidates through televised debates, photos of them drinking tea in their kitchen, door to door canvassing, social media and other such things. Yet all of this feels like a weird social experiment where we are invited to gaze upon a strange species discovered in a remote uninhabitable and unreachable terrain, their odd, obscene and irrational behaviour a spectacle of sorts, much like Big Brother.

The difference of course is that the decisions made by these people does have a massive impact upon our daily lives, for good or for ill.

So people want change and transformation, but are not sure how that looks or where it will come from.

In 1997 when Tony Blair came to power there was a genuine hope of change, that 'New Labour' would bring about the societal transformation the country were looking for.

In 2008 the chorus of 'Yes We Can' echoed out across America as Barack Obama came to power with hope rising in many hearts at the prospect of change.

But will history tell us that such change was merely superficial and that the policies and decisions within the Western political landscape over the last 30-40 years have been determined by war, capitalism, big business lobbying and unequal power?  Or did real radical change happen and have we seen transformation of communities through the collectivised vote?

We each have the opportunity to vote, to have our say through the ballet box, to take part in our democratic rights. Voting has changed the political colours within our nation.  So there is a kaleidoscope of political colour across our nation as people have gone out to vote and change the political colour landscape of the towns and communities they live in.

But on the other side of the debate there are questions as to whether this change is change at all.  If we pan out to the bigger picture does our vote make any real difference? Do we honestly live in a time of democracy where the voice of the people is heard and holds the powerful to account, or is a General Election a smoke screen, a facade, a game that is played that makes no real difference?

So my question to you is, should we vote? Share with me your thoughts and stories and ideas, let me know if you're planning on voting or not.  


Jenna said...

I've avoided voting in the general election before because I've never been sure how I felt about it. I've questioned whether voting makes me in part responsible for the actions of the party that is voted in? I now think it doesn't because everyone is responsible for their own actions, but still we're placing an immense amount trust in the people we're voting for to carry out their promises and act in the manner they've told us they will. I've decided to vote this time because I am unhappy with a lot of the actions of the current government, I feel they've been driving us more towards a capitalist and comsumer society than ever before, giving more power to those that hold large sums of money by making cuts to the vulnerable, to benefits people need when they have no other way of getting money for the basics they need to live and the care they need. They're privatising services and in effect placing them under the control of those with the money to buy them out rather than keeping them under government finance and control. I think I need to make the effort to change these things and participate in the political process by the means at hand. And I do believe there are flaws because while big parties who have ties to rich corporations and banks and have money to pay for more adverts, leaflets through the door and getting out their message through other media, it's only going to be those parties who are heard unless you go out of your way to look for others. But I would rather vote in a flawed system, place trust in someone who have ideas I believe would better our country and take responsibility for that if it goes wrong than be responsible for standing by and taking no action and letting the current government continue, even if my vote is futile. One other problem for me, is I think some people tend to vote for a party that historically have had more support rather than vote for one who's policies they believe in. I've decided to vote for the green party (no ties to big corporations) because although historically here they have support, regardless of whether other people will vote for them or whether they are likely to suceed, they are the party who I think are promising to make changes that would drive our country in a better direction. At the least I have the hope that my one vote and the others who decide to vote for them regardless of whether believing they'll suceed will inspire others to believe that eventually they could suceed. And I hope they would eventually get into power, keep their promises and stay there long enough to really make change, but although for four years the current government has made some big changes, I don't think many of them couldn't be easily undone by the next government.

RDM said...

I feel we are in a democratic situation that is reaping the whirlwind of individualism - so many interests and factions and promises and preferences, it is a smorgasboard of 'potential' but hard to see an 'actual'.
Second, I still prefer to live here than in most places in the world.
Third, America's self-imposed international isolation from the political world stage in the 20's contributed in a big-picture kind of way, to the rise of Nazi Germany in the 30's (one of the reason's they were **late** to respond during the War). Withdrawal on a national level is no good, and so withdrawal on a personal level must be no good either (otherwise Christians become as politically isolationist and irrelevant as the JW's).
Fourth, democracy is a sophisticated way of saying 'mob rule' and the mob, whoever they are, often win-out at such great cost, since when have people known what they want (what's good for them, or others, etc).
Fifth, You raise some great points (as usual Joe). Will there be a part 2 as you follow through your thoughts to suggestions, then you can.....point Six, buy me a coffee and tell me all about it....

Joe Haward said...

Thank you Rich and Jenna for your thoughts. I've posted my follow up blog post.

There are no easy answers to the whole political landscape, but I am sure there are transformative ethics that impact whole societies, the question is does our political system enable or disable that from happening...

Interesting times for sure.