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Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Election Blues

Most people are well aware I distrust (and in some cases severely dislike) politicians, especially the current batch dismantling the country.

I'm not sure most people are aware that I vote, and I do so in every election.

I grew up in a country where the majority of the population did not have the right to vote until I was out of high school. People marched, protested, bled and died for the right to scratch a cross against a name on a piece of paper.

When those people were finally given the right to vote, to step behind a curtain and clutch a pencil for the first time, the ink stamp that declared them voters still smudged and sticky on their flesh, they changed the face of a country.

As a female, I am very aware of the fact that women had to fight long and hard to get the right to vote. South Africa gave that right for the first time in  1933. The UK allowed us to vote in general elections in 1913, providing we were over 30 and meant property requirements. We got full voting rights here in 1928.  Once again, people died for that right.

Voting seems to be considered a pain in the fundamental. It's inconvenient. It means lining up in queues in draughty church halls and smelly, underused buildings. It means selecting the best of a bad bunch who might not make the changes they promise anyway (looking at you, David Cameron) and who might make the whole damn mess slightly worse.

The people who were disenfranchised only a century ago would have some trouble understanding this.

Politics haven't changed much. Politicians have always been corrupt, have always abused their offices, and have always ignored the social classes they don't want to know about. There are a few, battling against the cesspool of hand-outs and back-scratching, but they aren't the ones who get soundbites and their names in the papers.

The thing is, the people in parliament know about complacency, and voter apathy, and the feeling that one is pretty much the same as the other. They know that despite the rage seen everyday on the street, the average person doesn't feel they can make a difference. They encourage this. It is a lie.

If every person enraged by the callousness of the current system voted for someone else, the government would change; the people in their towers would fall. If every person dreading the thought of the Tories coming back in voted for Labour, the ruling party becomes Labour. If every woman condescended to by Cameron and co voted Green... Well, that's pretty much every female in the country. Bye, Dave!

And if you don't like what the new people do, you vote them out again. Make them realise that if what they do is unacceptable, there are repercussions, and we are the ones that bring those repercussions home. With a bit of pencil and a sheet of paper.

I watched a country changed by the voters, by the people who never believed they'd have a voice. It has happened in so many places, so many times.

Not voting is not an option. Humanity bled too hard to get us here.