Ladies and gentlemen, that wondrous time is upon us again.
A time where, suddenly, every social media user is a savvy political expert, and every party apart from yours is stupid, and people who vote accordingly for those other parties are stupid too.
I am referring to the election period in the UK. At the time of writing this, it’s an overcast, unpleasantly humid Thursday morning in Roath, Cardiff, on May 4th, 2017.
May the fourth be with you.
For those who like times like these, you’re in luck. Between May 2015 and July 2017 you will have gone to your local voting station around FOUR times, keenly grabbing the pencil, triple reading the sheet to ensure you don’t vote for that barmy party/policy accidentally, before submitting it into the box and turning to your phone to look for people who voted similarly to yourself to give them a pat on the back in your various corners of the internet.
Today is the third such election over the space of those two-and-a-bit years. Firstly we had the 2015 General Election (The One Where The Polls Started Getting Things A Bit Wrong), The EU Referendum (The One Where UKIP Voted Themselves Out Of Existence), today’s local election (The One Where You Vote About That Bloody Pothole In The Street) and finally the upcoming ‘Surprise!’ General Election on June 8th (The One Where You Choose Whether To Boost Theresa’s Ego Or Not).
One thing that all of these elections seem to have in common is an alarming amount of elitism, from both the left and right wing, regarding how people should vote. The following doesn’t necessarily mean everyone, just the ones who shout the loudest. The left is portrayed as a bunch of liberal ‘snowflakes’ whilst the left themselves consider any vote that isn’t Labour an apparent vote for the Tories, an affront, not only to left wing third party voters, but to basic mathematics as well. So I have compiled a brief list here on how to be a gosh-darn, swell individual during this divisive time, so maybe we’ll get through this without an eCivil War on our Facebook pages for once.
- The secret ballot exists for a reason. If people don’t want to share who they’ve voted for, then they have every right to keep that to themselves. Don’t push ’em.
- Secondly, and I can’t stress this enough, A THIRD PARTY VOTE IS NOT A THROWAWAY VOTE OR A VOTE FOR THE CONSERVATIVES, DAMNIT. Like, switch on the news for a second, we aren’t a two-party state. Where I live for example, the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats tend to fare better than the Conservatives, so they aren’t just a write off. I vote based on principle, not on who I think is most likely to win.
- Politics isn’t a line, it’s more of a circle. Compare an extreme right, fascist government like Hitler’s Nazi Germany and an extreme left, communist government like Stalin’s Soviet Union and tell me where the major differences are. I personally find an extreme viewpoint on either side a bit jarring, to say the least. Yet the average everyday voter isn’t that intense. Voting for the left doesn’t necessarily make someone a FemiNazi-Commie-Special-Snowflake and voting for the right doesn’t always make someone a Pig-Shagging-Alt-Reich-Racist.
- If somebody votes for the centre, like the Liberal Democrats, that’s cool too. Centre politics is based on compromise and trying to appease the left and right, without straying too far either way. They aren’t just undecided, stop giving them a hard time.
- Shouting at people about their choice in party, more often than not, will do absolutely nothing. Take some time and read Dale Carnegie’s excellent How to Win Friends and Influence People, and you’ll find that all an argument does is cement each person even more firmly in their own beliefs, even if they know them to be incorrect. No one ever changed their minds based on Jeff Pratt’s ‘Lol Corbyn is Kenobi; Tories are the Evil Empire’ Facebook meme. Or at least, I really hope they didn’t.
- I’m not saying politics shouldn’t be discussed. It’s for the good of the country to have real discussions about the many issues we face to find solutions to benefit everybody. All I’m saying is, it’s OK, and in the interest of a healthy, functional democracy, to think differently to other people. Just don’t be a jerk about it.
- If someone doesn’t vote, ehh. It’s their choice, AND IT’S NOT A VOTE FOR THE CONSERVATIVES. By that logic it’s also a vote for Labour, Lib Dem, Green, Ukip, Plaid Cymru, the SNP and the bloody Pirate Party. But seriously, it’s better to vote than not, regardless of who you’re voting for. I made the mistake of not voting in 2015 and I regret not doing so.
That’s all I got, because I’m tired, and I’ve written this and already voted, so I’m done with politics for the day. My biggest issue now is what I’m gonna have for lunch.
Where’s the Leadership Debate on that?