A word that comes with so many negative connotations and for many years has elicited a response of boredom more than anything else. This year is different and people seem to be putting the passion back into politics. There are three particular elections I'd like to mention for very different reasons.
Today is a very significant and possibly historic day across the world as Britain go to the polls on the EU referendum. This campaign has caused so much tension and has divided the country more than anything else I have ever witnessed. As a Brit living in Australia, I have not seen all of the media coverage but I have seen enough to know that people are harboring such strong opinions about what is best for the country and it is extremely interesting. I have seen friends and families arguing with such venom it is frankly scary. I have seen people on both sides throwing around accusations and insults about anything from intelligence to courage. To add to that the world was shocked at the shocking murder or MP Jo Cox, which was a tragic example of political tensions boiling over. I certainly hope this is an isolated event and not the start of a new norm. This article is not intended to give my view on the debate, although I do have a particularly strong opinion of what I think is the best decision. What I do not understand is using my choice in order to insult someone or as a reason to fall out with someone I love.
The election I am most far removed from is the American election as obviously I cannot vote. However, I know that the implications could be so far reaching I can't help but take an interest. I can't hide the fact that Hillary would have my vote. I love the fact it means a woman would be president but it also terrifies me that someone as angry and hateful as Donald Trump could become president and I worry about what would happen following his potential election. Hopefully, it will not be something we have to encounter!
It is definitely not as well publicized and does not have the same worldwide implications but in two weeks Australia will also go to the polls to determine the next Prime Minister. Having lived here for seven years, I have not had any strong preferences previously. This time I am a citizen and able to vote, I have taken a great interest in this election. Since my baby was born, I think not of myself but of her future and again I am sure of who I think will deliver more opportunities as she grows.
In all three elections, the reasons people have given for their choice range a tremendous amount and in an idealistic world I would love to see positive changes result from these strong opinions. For example, how fantastic would it be to see someone concerned about changes to pensions volunteer with the elderly or someone who votes one way for education volunteer as a reading helper in a local school?! I think when results are announced and feelings dissipate this will not happen and it is a real shame, as this is what politics should really be used for.
I truly think that the greater interest taken in politics in 2016 should be a good thing. Historically, people have given up so much to allow us the opportunity to vote and I honestly think this is an amazing gift. We should show our children that having your say and standing up for what you believe is the best way forward. We should give them the courage in their convictions but teach them to express this in a way that exudes kindness. We should encourage them to feel lucky to live in democratic societies... because they really are. We ALL are.
As much as I believe this, it worries me so much that the passion injection that has been severely lacking has been fuelled, often by hatred, which has turned to violence on more than one occasion. I want my daughter to grow up in a world where people express their voice in a positive way, not one based on segregation, fear, hatred and division. I hope that the results of all three elections turn out to be whatever is best for humanity more than anything and that tensions reduce as each outcome is announced. Our children deserve the brightest of futures, let's ensure we give it to them.