ALL RIGHT I CONFESS – I DON’T KNOW WHO TO VOTE FOR! And the truth is I suspect that I’m not alone! Like most people the present ‘coalition government’ has done some things that I completely agree with whilst others have brought me to utter despair. Indeed, there have been many times when I have felt completely disenfranchised by the current stream of politicians without any one single party capable of fairly representing me or my views. The possibility of another ‘hung parliament’ leading to yet another coalition has made things even more difficult with traditional labels no longer seeming relevant: now the Conservatives are the party of the ‘working people’ and Labour are anxious to show that they can be fiscally trusted with the economy. The political permeations are vast with the Liberal Democrats, UKIP, Greens and Scottish National Party all vying for our votes – but who has the right ideas and who can be trusted? After all, we all ‘know’, don’t we, that politicians are famous for saying one thing and doing another so why should we bother – and how is it all going to be paid for anyway? Perhaps we should all follow the Russell Brand style of doing things by simply withholding our vote and using our lack of engagement as a silent weapon of protest against the political establishment and elitist system until they see sense. Unfortunately not voting, in my opinion, far from being ‘radical and edgy’ simply translates into an abdication of rights and responsibility and becomes a lame excuse for apathy! How can we possibly influence things for the better if we can’t be bothered to engage with the process? Democracy doesn’t always achieve for us the things that we hope for as individuals, but for us as a society it’s a hard won freedom that we should each cherish, respect and observe.
The problem is of course that we don’t live in a perfect society and neither do our political parties, therefore each one is made up of a mixture of things we like and dislike, good and bad (or good and not so good) and things that we can better identify with or not. Therefore instead of absenting ourselves from the process we need to make even stronger efforts to engage with it and understand things until we come to a decision. This isn’t always easy and for many is a bit of a struggle. Appreciating that there will never be a perfect fit in any human institution, I will vote for the party that sits most comfortably with my Christian faith and looks as if it will enhance our society in the most fair, just and compassionate way – just as you will vote according to your principles and what matters most to you. Perhaps, like me at the time of writing, you don’t know which way to vote, but there is one thing upon which I hope we can all agree and that is that ‘not voting’ is not an option!
“What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” Micah 6.8
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