Sunday, 2 November 2008

Why I vote

From http://gwailowrite.livejournal.com/136104.html

Why do I vote? There are several reasons. But first of all I would say that voting is NOT the be all and end all. Your job does not end or even begin with voting. It begins with educating yourself. It’s about being politically aware and educated - and that means more than watching adverts and news flashes. An ignorant vote is as pointless as not voting at all - worse in many ways. If you have not studied the parties and the candidates then I will probably be the first to say DON’T VOTE. If you cannot tell me what you’re voting for - REALLY what you’re voting for - then we may as well have someone place your vote at random for all the good it will do.

That being said - the reasons I vote:

I vote in order to give respect

Not for my government but for my country. My country does well by me. I live in the kind of comfort, security and prosperity that most of the world cannot even dream of. I enjoy rights and privileges that are so blessedly rare but I can take for granted to such a degree that I can ignore them. The country gives me history, identity, culture, home, tradition and so many other wonderful gifts. With these gifts come some duties. Voting is a duty I owe my nation, my country, my home. It is not much to ask.

I vote in order to give recognition
It wasn’t that long ago that most people couldn’t vote. It wasn’t that long ago that voting didn’t exist. It still doesn’t in some places. Universal Sufferage is frighteningly recent - and though the most recent prohibitions wouldn’t have restricted me, it still wasn’t that long ago that the common man was not allowed any say in their government, their lives or their future. This changed. This changed because people fought and worked and bled and died and struggled. Not for themselves, but for their children and their children’s children and their children’s children’s children. I honour them for the sacrifices they made for me. I will not tarnish their gift by refusing to exercise the rights they gave me.

But most of all, I vote to defend myself
I am a member of a minority. Not only am I the member of a minority, but I am a member of a disempowered minority that faces considerable opposition, prejudice and hatred. There are a large number of people and forces out there that would do me harm. The reason I function as easily as I do in society is because there are laws and bodies in operation that fights for me. There are laws that prevent people hurting me. There are rules that prevent people discriminating against me. The common rights of our people apply to me as well as everyone else.

These laws are enforced and implemented by the government. These policies are put in place by the government. These rights and reinforced by the government. For any of them to work at all, the government has to make them work, the government has to enforce them, the government and its agents have to fight our corner. Rules mean nothing if the enforcement bodies are indifferent towards them. Laws mean little if new loopholes are introduced.

The government is my shield, my shelter, my protector and my champion. I have a vested interest in examining it, shaping it and, most of all, making sure I am heard by it. Because if it forgets me, if the legions of hate get to do the shaping then I and mine are in severe trouble