Tomorrow our country goes to the polls to decide who will lead the country and I’m taking a moment out of my day’s cycling and my website’s expedition updates to write about something I’ve been thinking about these past few days.
I hope that whatever your views, you will be voting tomorrow. To not do so would be a great shame and a sqaundering of your right to a voice. But I’d ask you first to think carefully about the reasons for your decision before you do so.
On TV, a typical interview with a member of the public during the build up to the election might go something like this:
Interviewer: “Who will you be voting for on May 6th?”
Member of public: “Well I am an *Insert profession/demographic* and I’ll be voting for Party X because they offer me better benefits/tax reliefs/rights”
The reporter nods knowingly and uses this as an example of the reasons certain groups of the population might vote in a given way. But why should our primary motivation in choosing our vote be what is most beneficial to us personally?
Your vote, in my opinion, should not be solely for your benefit. We are voting for our country’s leadership and should consider what is right and what is best for the entire population, not just ourselves.
If a political party were started that offered great benefits to those of an adventurous persuasion (don’t get any ideas Dave), it’s highly unlikely that I’d be moved to give them my vote because that is a very narrow platform for policies. Equally, if an otherwise extremist party were offering you a high salary simply for being you, then I’m sure you wouldn’t vote for them either; your opinion of their other policies not swayed by the simple offer of money.
Now, I am sure that there are many people for whom the election of a particular party could make their lives very difficult and thus provides strong reason to vote for an alternative. I couldn’t pretend to know the situations of so many other people and if that is the case then it, of course, paints a different picture. But for the rest of us, are the minor benefits or detractions we may receive as a result of a different group in charge really reason enough to justify our vote? Or do the wider issues and their effects on the wider world outweigh them?
There are no doubt, too, many people who will cast votes to benefit their cohort of society because they have a better understanding of it through being a part of it and thus feel that it is important that they are represented. Everyone has different views and experiences and it is right that these be reflected in their decision. That is the beauty of the sytem and to vote on that premise is, for me, an entirely valid justification but should not be confused with selecting a vote simply because it will benefit them.
Telling people how to vote is rarely appropriate and to do so on this blog would be a gross tangent from its purpose. But I have chosen to write about it for this simple reason: It strikes me as hugely sad to think that anyone would be casting their vote, a vote which influences the entire country and more still, solely on the basis of what is best for them as an individual. It is too important a decision, too great a responsibility and too big a moment for selfishness.
So go out tomorrow and vote. But not for yourself.
Day 9 (4th May)
- Distance so far: 280 miles
- Quote of the day: “Is that man cycling around the world?” son to his dad, “Won’t it take him a long time on that?”