Today is General Election day in the UK. I’ve already been out and voted. In fact, I was eager enough to do so that I was a couple of minutes early, and had to actually be socialable and chat to the folks in the polling station until they were allowed to give me my ballot paper.
“I’m not normally one to discuss politics, but …” is something that is all too familiar on my social network feeds today. This is usually followed up with a proclamation that the poster has voted, then a statement about how everybody else needs to go and vote, to finish up with a sly (or in some cases, outright blatant) comment that is designed to shame anyone who voted in a way that they didn’t.
I’m not going to do that. I am proud to be able to say that I have friends across the entire political spectrum; many who are very vocal in their support. I’m comfortable enough in my own political beliefs that I see no need to deride them for theirs – even when I strongly disagree. More to the point – the idea of only listening to people who share my own politics is very uncomfortable to me. To put it bluntly – if I exist in an echo chamber, I don’t see how I can form an informed opinion. If I never challenge my convictions by listening with an open mind, then can I really have any faith in my convictions?
More importantly – if the strongest power I have as a voter is the ability to change my mind, how can that ever happen if I don’t listen to all sides of the argument?
Enough of that, though. I am straying from the point I’m wanting to make in this post.
Those of us in the UK live in a democracy. We are lucky to do so. That did not come for free. It may seem like an old cliche, but people have fought and died to give us a vote – the ability to stand up and have our say. There are countries out there were people like you and I do not have the chance to vote.
I don’t care how you vote. I only care that you do. So, if you are eligible to vote in the UK today, I really hope that you are going to pop out today and do so. You have until 10pm.
The fact it is raining is not an excuse. There was once a woman who deliberately got trampled by a horse in her fight for the right to vote. Google Emily Davison if you’re curious. Get an umbrella, get down to the polling station, and be counted.
Find all the candidates uninspiring? Better to spoil your ballot paper than to not vote at all. If enough people did that instead of not even showing, well … I can imagine it would be a better form of protest than not even bothering.
For those of you who have read this to the end – thanks for reading. I do hope you’re voting, or have already done so. If you’re not voting but are eligible to do so, please have a word with yourself. The cost of our democracy has been high. Just because that cost has not been paid in your lifetime, it does not mean that the cost was not real. Don’t waste the price that was paid for this.