Seattle, WA – Bloody Facebook politicians, trying to make sure people vote based on informed and rational thinking; sharing information from news outlets that aren’t run by billionaires or held in thrall to whichever government is in power; showing an interest in the future of our country.  They make me physically sick.

You may have guessed that I’m writing in jest, however the unfortunate reality is that, while I paraphrase, this is essentially what comes up on my Facebook wall whenever we get close to an election.

“They’re all just as bad as each other” some of you will moan, “whichever way we vote we’re f**ked!”  Well, not really.

I find politics interesting.  I get that that’s not necessarily a view held by everyone, but since it’s all our future’s on the line, indulge me for a brief moment.

This isn’t a post aimed at winning the hearts and minds of people before an election, more an open letter to those on Facebook who’ve baffled me with the way they choose to vote.  This is not about who they vote for, more the why the vote.  While I don’t particularly want to generalise, for the purposes of this post I feel the need to and have broken my observations into three distinct categories.

1.  The “They’re all as bad as each other” camp

Look, they aren’t.  This election is a prime example of that.  The personalities are so different.  We have the existing government who’s track record shows the harm they are capable of and we have those seeking to make gains, who operate, mainly, on the basis of doing the exact opposite.

This is a cop out.  If you believe this then you haven’t read enough, watched enough or talked enough.  I’m not here to advocate for any one party.  This is a generalisation after all, but allow me this, relatively poor, analogy.

If you’re buying a car, you research it.  You’ll maybe check which model is most cost-effective, which is most environmentally friendly or which provides the most safety for your kids.  Why is politics any different?  Your vote potentially impacts your ability to even buy the car in the analogy.  Research and vote for whoever’s best for your pocket, the environment, your kids, whatever is important to you!  Weigh up the information and make an informed decision.

2.  The “I’m voting for blah because fallacy” camp

This camp is for those of you who are voting based on football team, religion, xenophobic or racist ideologies, to piss other people off or anything in-between and beyond.

Sure some of these things are important, immigration, for instance, is a big issue.  However, if you’re looking at this from the point of view of “bloody immigrants” then what are you really gaining?  I get that recent terrorist attacks make people particularly emotive to this issue, however since the majority of recent attackers were born in the UK, “bloody immigration” didn’t have all that much to do with it.

In Scotland, we have people who’ll vote based on the team they support i.e. whichever side of the Christian faith they’re on.  You all know who you are.  It doesn’t matter which side of the divide you’re on, voting on this basis isn’t really helping you, but then again, how would you know?

3.  The “Everyone on Facebook is a politician” camp

This camp is for those people who’ve made their mind up (or not) and will not stand to have other people discuss their political views.  Not on their timeline!

Informed debate is central to progressive politics.  You may find out something you didn’t know; consider a viewpoint that had previously never occurred to you; or even re-evaluate your political leanings.

In central Scotland, for instance, Labour was previously dominant.  Now it’s the SNP.  That’s not just down to TV debates and newspaper articles.  It’s come about because of discussion.  If you don’t want to be a part of it then that’s fine.  If you want to make a sarcastic remark about people posting politically-based content, that’s fine too.

But at the same time, don’t complain when someone (not me) calls you out on posting pictures of your f**king dinner.

Coda

Guys I honestly don’t care who you vote for, provided it’s been an informed decision.  That’s democracy.  People have actually died for your right to vote.  So this is the one thing, I’d ask.  Why not show them, and the right they’ve given you, the respect they both deserve?