Opt In

It was a bit of anti-climax. It isn’t the same putting your vote in the post, amongst those who are making their way to the polling stations now, huddled into those familiar wooden booths. It is a technological vaccuum where even the advances in everything electronic won’t stop you from taking a black pen and putting a black ‘x’ in the designated box. And it is totally yours to choose.

The beauty of voting in a General Election for the very first time is that it is like crossing the threshold. A threshold that has very rarely changed in the last few hundred years, that has built the nation and brought it to its knees. And it all invariably starts with you walking into that familiar wooden booth, and marking your choice. It was a very exciting moment for me personally, having been heavily interested in politics since I can remember.

However, I can’t help feeling like the tokenism behind voting should have more value than it does. Amongst many of us, it is as much about telling people that you are going to vote, as well as actually doing it. An exercise in democratic responsibility, as well as a vanity project. It is a curious juxtaposition between generations that have kept their political views to themselves, and many of us who are bold enough to post our explicit¬†political views all over our social media profiles. It is a positive notion, I must admit, that so many people want to be more involved, but I am worried that we sometimes don’t see how important this actually is.

I know there is no need to point fingers at the engaged, when there are many others that have no interest or time for the way in which this race pans out. It isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Also, there is no right or wrong reason to vote – it is a very personal dimension and there are a plethora of reasons why an individual might choose one box over another. Yet, do we take the time to understand who and what we are voting for? Can we ever consider the implications of such a decision on one ballot paper on one day?

It sometimes makes me feel like it is an ‘opt in’. You tick a box (or rather cross) and suddenly you align with a certain viewpoint, a major issue or a charismatic leader. You endorse the way that they work, who they believe in and you give them the right to decide a part of your future for five years. It is the terms and conditions at the bottom that we miss – the small print that surfaces months after the wooden booths are taken down, and the pollsters go home – the devil, as someone said to me today, is in the details.

So cross that box. Smile at the fact that you made a little piece of history. But realise that this is just the beginning, and that it is time to start holding those to account after the banners have been taken down. It will be a very exhausting night. And for a few groups of people, it will be a celebration amongst all the chaos…but the real winner should be you.

Because this should never just be an ‘opt in’ – this is a statement of intent. This generation will not be deceived again, not this time.

 

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