I didn’t expect to have to write this blog post so soon. 3 weeks notice for a general election seems very, very short but I’ve read it was done to ‘preempt what would have been a likely government defeat in a confidence motion on minister for health, Simon Harris.’ Politics, eh?
We get told to make our vote count and to use it to wisely to give us the best chance of avoiding extinction, but how do we do that?
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You can listen to an audio version of the blog post here
I came across the image used at the top of this blog on Rascals Brewing FB page
I used to think that the best way to decide who to vote for was to look at each party’s policies, and when I started drafting this post it included a blow-by-blow analysis of each party’s manifesto and a report card for the government. But I’ve decided that it’s a huge waste of my time, and yours. Thankfully there’s a much simpler way to find out who to vote for.
I used to be heavily involved in a political party and wrote and edited policy for them for 4 years. I strongly believe in the ability of good policy to move society forward – but only if it’s implemented, and therein lies the problem. Time after time I’ve seen – and heard of – good policy being sidelined for political gain or one-up-man-ship. Often this is done by someone who prioritises their own advancement over the needs others, but fear not, they’re easy enough to identify when you know what to look for.
Narcissistic politicians hate being pinned down to specific answers; it prevents them from shifting position to suit the needs of the audience they’re wooing. Ask a direct question and watch them squirm. They also hate anything resembling actual work, particularly if it’s out of the limelight. They’ll be the ones that turn up to a litter pick right around the time the press photographer arrives. So ask them to do something specific for you. You’ll never hear from them again.
This might sound like a long arduous process, it’s not. It can be quite easily done by email. I always have a need to contact local politicians in my area between elections and it’s the perfect opportunity to work out who deserves your vote. I simply email my query or complaint to them all and wait for the responses.
If I no response at all, it’s means no vote.
If I get a wishy washy ‘thanks for your enquiry, it’s a very important issue, we need to do something about it’ response, I’ll politely reply and push them for a definitive answer or action plan. Usually they stop replying at this point so it’s no vote.
If I get a response with some real engagement and real answers, even if I don’t agree with them, I’ll save the email until the next election rolls around. Once it does I’ll open up the saved ones and then take a look at their track record and/or policies to make sure they’re not a complete lunatic. This doesn’t take long, primarily because so few politicians bother to follow up with their constituents. Out of the 7 councillors I emailed about a local matter last year only 3 took the time to reply and only 1 followed up with a second email. Guess who’s getting my vote!
Now it’s too late for any of you to do that for this election. All the politicians will be on their best behaviour and replying to every email that pops into their inbox over the next 3 weeks. So what can you do to give yourself the best chance of picking a decent sod to help run our country?
My advice is to talk to people* that work in community groups and non-profits in your area, and ask who has delivered for them over the past 4 years. Politicians are great at promising, and do so at every turn, but promises won’t sort out homelessness, or the trolley crisis or the climate crisis. What we need is action, implemented by people with integrity, and you’re not going to find them flicking through the glossy brochures that arrive in your letterbox.
If you don’t know anyone working involved in a community group or non-profit, what the hell is that all about? You really need to question your priorities if you’ve put such a distance between those in need and yourself.
Voting is only one way to influence politics. What you say to canvassers has a huge impact on the direction policy takes. Believe me, politicians pay heed to what is said on the doors and that information is fed right back to head office.
The best thing to do is to pick 3 things to mention to any canvassers you meet and don’t worry about engaging in clever informed debate. Most canvassers don’t have the time for it and have been instructed not get embroiled in debates on the doors. Just focus on what’s important to you from your personal point of view. You’re the expert on your life so no need to have a wealth of data to back up your statements.
If you’re sick of having to drive 90mins to work because of poor public transport connections then say that.
If you’re angry that there is no tax on aviation fuel then say that.
If you’re frustrated at not being able to compost your food waste in your apartment complex, say that.
If you’re frightened by the Roundup being sprayed in your estate by contractors hired by the local council, say it.
If you’re annoyed that you have to feed your family food sprayed with chemicals because of the lack of support for organic agriculture, say that.
If you don’t understand why the government allowed manufacturers to keep microbeads in non-rinse toiletries, say it.
If you’re sick of seeing people running their engines when parked, including council vehicles, say it.
If you believe we should stop harvesting peat for commercial use then say it.
If you think single-use items should be banned immediately then say it.
If you’ve no choice but to buy food wrapped in plastic because supermarkets import it from half way around the world in order to maximise their profits, then say it.
If the sight of plastic election posters makes you want to scream, then say it.
Whatever rattles your cage, just say it! It’s the most sustainable thing you can do between now and February the 8th
* Before you start investigating; check if the person you’re asking is a member of a political party or related to anyone running. It’s not going to be an unbiased opinion if they are.