Politics and me

voteIn our area yesterday we had local elections. I didn’t go along and vote; I didn’t feel there was any point. I knew nothing about the people standing, or what their policies were. I tend to trust people to get on with their jobs and feel no urge to oversee or interfere.

I’ve been thinking about it since, though, and realised I’m wrong. It’s no good saying it’s their fault for not getting information out to me, it’s up to me to make myself aware of what’s going on and make my own decisions.

I treasure the fact that I’ve had a good education, and that I’m interested in the world around me, but it’s not enough. I need to realise that it’s every person’s responsibility to look out for themselves and for others. I’ve spent a good part of my time studying and helping others to study Animal Farm, and that contains a warning about just what does happen when the animals leave the pigs to run things. They assume the pigs have everyone’s interest at heart, while in fact the pigs are worried only about their own interests. Some of the animals were unable to take any part in decision making, while others were able but unwilling, and in the end all paid the price.

I’m not suggesting local (or even national) politics is as bad as the situation in Animal Farm, but the fact remains that their work does need to be supervised and overseen by everyone. There are certain stories that crop up regularly in the news and I wonder what the point is, then realise that the scrutiny is important, that if we stop watching and stop reporting then accountability is lost.

Unless enough people are aware enough to understand what’s going on around them and take an interest in politics, then the politicians have things their own way. It’s up to each one of us to take responsibility for this understanding and scrutiny, and it begins by taking an interest in local elections and making sure we are aware of issues and people.

So the next time polling cards drop through our door I’ll be doing my own research, finding out who’s standing and what their policies are, and I’ll be looking at the local and national papers not just for the entertaining or human interest stories, but also to see what those who make decisions on our behalf are doing, and deciding for myself whether I agree with it.

After all, unless we take our part in the decision making, even if it’s only helping to decide who makes those decisions, then how can we complain if we don’t agree with those decisions?



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