Okay I’m sorry. I click-baited you. It was wrong of me and I can only apologise, and hope that you keep reading.
You see, lots of people switch off at the mere whiff of the mention of the word politics. Those people, the ones that think that they can and should ignore politicians and what they get up to, are exactly the people I want to talk to. My partner Sean, is one of those people and he was the inspiration for the misleading title. So welcome, people like Sean (that’s a scary thought) or whoever else has stumbled their way here, I’d like to talk to you.
It’s election year in both of my home’s: NZ and the UK. Once upon a time this would have been of no consequence to me. In fact at 24 I have only ever voted twice out of a possible 7 times. The only time I have actually gone out of my way to vote was this year, in the EU referendum.
So I am not speaking to you from any kind of moral high-ground. I have been guilty of taking my vote for granted, the right that my sisters fought for and that other people hold riots and die for blah blah blah… or at least that’s how I used to react to that kind of guilt-tripping dialogue. So what’s changed my mind?
Helen b.v. (before voting) would have told you that it didn’t matter who you voted for. Politicians sell us the same bullshit in a different package, so why should I go out of my way to partake in a process I didn’t believe in? It sounds like a pretty fair argument, right? Well what I didn’t realise was that abstaining from voting in an election didn’t mean that I wasn’t part of the system, and it certainly didn’t mean that I wasn’t affected by the outcome.
Like it or not, all of us cast a vote every time we pull out our wallets. Money makes the world go round, and every time you choose to part with it, you are supporting the company, the product and the process that brought it into being. We’ve all heard of supply and demand: as long as something is making money it will continue to be produced. Unfortunately it is so easy to remain disconnected from who has provided the labour and what the true cost of the item is.
Before I digress too much, the point is that everything is connected. Some mostly old, white men somewhere, have decided on labour laws, trading laws, wages, import tax, business tax, GST, VAT, health and safety guidelines, pensions, healthcare , childcare and so much more. To say that who is in power doesn’t matter, can only be true for people in the world with so much money that they are virtually untouchable.
To make a wild, sweeping generalization, from my observation it seems like the people who really care, are the people with a lot (of money) to lose or the people who are absolutely just scraping by. It is the people in between that need to stand up and decide who they are going to get behind. Sure, the minimum wage rising to £10 may not affect you personally, but spare a thought for the people who will find that to be a life-changing amount; Childcare may not be something you have to worry about but what about the people who are struggling to get the support they need; You might be able to afford to pay for your doctors visits and medication but try to imagine how many people rely on the NHS and other healthcare services to enjoy any kind of quality of life.
As I’ve said before, caring flipping sucks some times. Caring about politics is particularly hard because the outcome is fairly unpredictable. Brexit was the first time I found myself completely invested in the outcome of a voting process (apart from my Sisters United party campaign in year 4). The result did not go how I thought it would and it was pretty devastating. I honestly didn’t think that I would be up for getting back on the horse, but I think the election of Trump has shocked me back into action. I wanted to understand how it had come about and at least know that I have done my part to avoid the UK in particular, going down a road I don’t think anyone with any morals or empathy, really wants it to go down.
I guess what I’m trying to say, is that voting isn’t always about you. You may feel like the outcome won’t change your life in any tangible way, but I promise you that it will for the most vulnerable in society. I implore you to take 10 minutes out of your life to read something about the values of the major parties. See who you think may be able to do the most good for the most people. And if you do vote and it doesn’t go your way then at least you know that you had your say and can rightfully complain for the next few years that this wasn’t what you asked for.