So, I’m not going to pretend to know much about politics. I wish I did, I think it’s really interesting, but I don’t have time to keep up to date and I get incredibly frustrated at some things that happen within politics. I’m normally very up to date on equality-related politics (both for gender and sexuality) as those are my main interests/passions, but general politics stuff I think needs a lot of time and information-consumption to fully understand it. However I do believe you can make a rational, fully-informed decision on who to vote for (and support) without being 100% expert on politics. So I want to make this post about why you should vote, how you can do it, and how you can decide who to vote for. (Obviously this is only applicable for UK people right now, though the same reasons apply to all elections really)
I believe it is incredibly important that we all vote if we can. No matter your age, gender, race, living or working situation, whether you support any of the parties… no matter if you think your vote doesn’t matter or any of that – you should still vote. Because honestly every vote counts.
“But how will my one vote many any difference?”
You might be thinking, ‘If I vote for that one party who barely anyone supports, what’s the point? They’re not going to get into power anyway?’ And I get that. I understand that point of view and for ages I thought the same way, but what I didn’t comprehend is that if there are other people thinking that exact thing, and if all of the people thinking ‘they don’t have enough support to get into power anyway so it doesn’t matter’ or even the people just thinking ‘mine’s only one vote why bother’, if all those people just voted anyway, that would make such a difference. To quote Gloria Steinem…
“When unique voices are united in a common cause, they make history.”
So yes, your one tiny little vote does matter.
Tactical voting? Or should you go with your gut?
This is similar to the above dilemma. Some people choose to do a ‘tactical vote’ which basically means that since normally just a couple of parties are truly likely to win, they pick out of those parties, rather than the entire selection. This in some ways is very good, and it’s a clever idea. Because as I said, why vote when it may not count? But again, if everyone who tactically votes like that actually voted for who they really think is best, then that party could potentially win. Even if they didn’t, it shows the majority parties that their support is in fact less than they believed. Either way, in my opinion, it is better. That is something I recommend you consider before tactically voting, but it is of course your own decision how you choose to vote.
For my fellow young voters…
Please, please please please, make use of your vote. You may not fully understand politics, you may not think it matters much, you may not think it will affect you or that politicians will listen to you but I swear your vote matters. Right now election promises and manifestos are aimed at older generations. Hell, some of the parties even want to put the voting age up. Personally, I think that is ridiculous. If at 18 I’m old enough to live alone and decide my future career, if I’m able to have a full time job and get married and get a loan and manage money, I think I’m old enough to decide what happens to the future of my country and my life. But sadly, statistics have told politicians that only 44% of young people voted in the 2010 General Election and 42.4% of people aged 16-24 stated they had no interest in politics. So with things like this, it’s no wonder politicians don’t cater to our demographic. Why would they? They want to get the most votes. They will promise whatever it takes to get the most votes. So even though the parties differ on some views, they’ll all cater those views to older generations because they know it’s those people who will be swayed by it. That is why our student fees are so high, that is why sex education in school is appalling, that is why it’s only now that we have more equality in the UK than ever before. Young people are finally seeing they can make a difference, whether it’s one X in a box or whether it’s protesting in London or whether it’s writing a shitty blog post trying to get people to vote. We are the future. We see equality as a necessity, we see that we do have brains and we do matter. We see our power as a collective force and we can change the future. But that will only happen if politicians see us as an asset, as something they want on their side. We need to show them, and all the older people who say ‘young people are useless’ or ‘young people don’t care about the country’ that we do care. You have so much power and all you have to do is share something on Twitter or tell your friend about something or fill in a goddamn form one day. So I am begging you, please use your vote. Because if you do, you can change the whole future for people like me and people like yourself.
“But I don’t know who to vote for?”
Okay, so this is both the hardest and simplest part of politics. It’s hard because we don’t have a great choice – all politicians are somewhat dickheads, and all politicians will lie to some extent so they can get into power. It’s really hard because you’ll never be certain they’ll make good on their promises and the fact they’re all so bitchy and childish towards each other is kinda pathetic. But you should still vote. I’d rather pick the least crappy option than have no say at all. When I decided I wanted to use my vote, I spent about an hour (you don’t even need that long, I’m just over-cautious) looking on each of the parties’ websites and comparing their promises, their interviews and their opinions to my own. I wrote up lists of the main things they each stand for and want to happen and from that I could quite clearly see whose ideals lined up with my own. You may not find any of them completely match your own thoughts, but one or two parties’ will match you better than others. You just need to decide what is most important to you (i.e. student fees, education, equality, mental health, NHS, economy, taxes etc. etc.) and find who best agrees with that. There are loads of quiz-type things out their which tally all that up and tell you in percentages who you ‘match’ with. I personally don’t really trust those as they could be biased (whereas on the parties’ sites at least I know which way they’re biased) and I like to get a bit more in-depth info, but you can still use those if you want to. Anything is better than not voting.
Before you do the matching-up method though, please just consider this: I have a friend who says he disagrees with all UKIP’s policies, except their anti-immigration ones. So he’s going to vote for them. Now, this is his choice, but I believe just because you agree with one policy a party has doesn’t mean you should vote for them. Voting for a party because of one policy is silently agreeing and condoning all their other policies. I say you should choose which issues matter to you most, but if you disagree with other policies don’t let that one most important one sway you. Try to make a balanced choice, as hard and complicated (and boring) that may seem.
Why, as a woman, you should 100% definitely absolutely vote…
To all my fellow females, cis or not, we have to vote. I’m not going to draw this out or ramble on, but please take this to heart: women died for us to vote. They gave their entire lives and energy and everything, just so we could have a say in what happens in our lives. To not vote now with the power they’ve given us is both disrespectful and ignorant. Whether there is a party you side with or not, you should vote. Hell, go to the polling station and write ‘fuck you UKIP’ on the card if you really don’t like any of the parties. Just do something to show you care. We can get equal pay, we can stop our bodies being used to sell things, we can make rapists always get convicted, we can make it okay for a man to be feminine or a boy to cry or play with dolls. We can change the future for the better and make equality a reality. So please, use your vote.
Why you should not vote for UKIP:
I have tried to keep this post unbiased. I honestly believe people should make up their own minds and vote for who they naturally ‘side’ with. However there is one party I am terrified of getting into power. And that is the UK Independence Party. These people… they should not be allowed to run for election, let alone actually be in with a shot at winning (as, terrifyingly, they are). They are racist, homophobic, sexist, xenophobic, Islamaphobic… basically every kind of ‘phobic’ or ‘ist’ you get that isn’t good. The thing is, you may agree with some things UKIP says. People I know have told me they agree with some of their thoughts. That may be so, and that doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. It doesn’t mean you’re racist or sexist or any of that other stuff. But as I stated earlier, if you support them for one thing, you are supporting them for everything.
What truly terrifies me, and I mean honestly downright scares me, about Nigel Farage and UKIP is just how utterly they believe the things they say. That kind of belief is great sometimes, but when it is belief backing the ideals they have, it is scary. Some people have compared Farage to Hitler, or more recently, Putin. Farage seems to inspire a kind of awe and people seem to be motivated by him (sound familiar? *cough* Hitler *cough*). Perhaps that is a big leap, but think about it: Hitler started as just a guy saying ‘nah our reparations are too high, this country shouldn’t have to pay so much money – you, the people, shouldn’t have to pay so much money’. So of course people went with him on that. But over time, as he grew in power, he introduced different schemes and ideas, and his plans got more extreme. That is the problem. He went from just a guy who ‘said what everyone was thinking’ to introducing arguably the worst laws and punishments the world has ever seen. As a young, gay, mentally-ill woman, it scares me that Farage has so much backing. Because his ‘people with HIV are bad’ thought could morph into a ‘we should get rid of HIV, kill all those HIV-positive people’ thought. Because his ‘men are better than women’ thought could morph into a ‘women shouldn’t be allowed in the workplace’ thought. Because his ‘don’t teach kids about gay people’ thought could morph into a ‘don’t teach kids that gay people exist, don’t let gay people adopt or marry, in fact just criminalise being gay’ thought. It may sound extreme, but that stuff happens. It already has, all over the world. I am privileged at the moment to be able to freely say I love the same gender and to be able to have the option to marry someone of the same gender, but it is so very possible that in just a few years that could all the gone. That, and so many other things that will affect everyone.
Just a few sources for why UKIP are scary evil:
Is UKIP a Party of Bigots?
15 Reasons Women Shouldn’t Vote for UKIP
10 Good Reasons Not to Vote for UKIP
UKIP is Xenophobic and Creates Fear
Is UKIP Actually Racist?
8 of the Most Homophobic things UKIP Candidates Have Said (okay, this one’s just funny)
UKIP Continue to Normalise Homophobia
Lastly, ‘but voting’s hard/I don’t have the time/I can’t be bothered’.
Basically, the answer to this is stop being a lil bit pathetic. Everyone except cases of ill people or under-18s can vote. It is not difficult. The General Election is on the 7th of May. You can register for a postal vote (it gets sent to you, you put an X in a box, you send it back) or you can nip down your local polling station, put an X in a box, then go home. It is not difficult or complicated. I thought it was, but it’s really not. You just need to do it. The hardest part is finding five minutes to do it, and that will be all it takes. You can learn more about ways to vote and how to do so here.
To sum up this lengthy post (sorry not sorry), please vote. P.S. That is, unless you’re voting for UKIP. Then don’t. I sincerely hope this helps even just one person and makes stuff seem a bit simpler. Remember we can all change the future, for ourselves and generations to come.