It’s the day before the UK elections and you seriously cannot get away from it anymore. Everyone and everywhere is now a hotbed of political discussion, households everywhere have solved the refugee crisis and produced cutting edge political arguments over and over, but it all culminates in tomorrow’s vote.
1 vote, and then you go home. Or, you already voted with your postal vote because you are a smart and organised person from an entirely different planet to me. I myself am working the whole day tomorrow, so am going to be joining the queue at 9:30pm, which means I will be allowed to vote even if it is after 10pm, the official poll closing time. Looking forward to being amongst the stragglers actually, will remind me of deadline day at university!
(I just checked this, this is correct, see page 17 of the official polling station handbook for 2014’s EU elections here.)
After you hand in your ballot, or if you’re not voting and not part of the UK, you’re gonna feel incredibly impotent. There’s nothing to do but to stay and wait for the results. You can watch the pendulum’s swing on the TV shows as the votes trickle in, but what for? Any result until the final result is just teasing, needlessly plunging you into despair or uplifting you, until that final call. You don’t even know when that will be, when the scales tip, it’s normally not worth staying up for.
Then you have the glorious experience of waking up to an election result. So many of us can recall with trauma-flashback accuracy the feeling as we woke up to Brexit, and later that year, to Trump. It’s the epiphany of all our powerlessness; we voted and turned up and we cared, yet the vote still won’t always (or as it seems for the left in Britain and America at the moment, ever) go our way.
Take courage though. We know that politicians have a lot of power over our lives, they make decisions about funding and about laws and acts that affect us all, especially the most vulnerable, who live close to the bone and have no other option to turn to apart from the state, who can be killed by penstrokes that decide their benefits can be cut and their taxes raised.
However, we are all people at the end of the day. The beaureaucrats and pen-pushers are humans, who have their own choices to make. We have opportunities to be kind people, to put people above profit, to work to improve people’s lives as part of a society, not pad our wallets as part of a consumerist death-race. We can aim to emulate the lives of people like Chiune “Sempo” Sugihara, the Japanese diplomat who issued thousands of visa’s to jewish refugees, even after direct orders contradicting this. It’s well worth a read of his story, an incredible yet humble force of heroism. Less dramatically, you have ordinary people like Stacy Koltiska, the dinner lady who had to resign after she refused to stop giving children hot meals, even when their parents owed money.
We can’t really change the world through a single vote, although we can endorse people with the social power to make bigger changes than we could as individuals. Whatever happens in the polls and the results, we will always keep the power to support each other and what we believe in, regardless of whether it’s through politics or through our personal actions of kindness and openess.
And vote properly, of course. You never know!*
*Use a biro, it’s allowed: “You can mark the box with a tick or a cross and this can be in pen or pencil or marker or technically blood if you felt the need to express yourself, however, we feel this is a little inconsiderate to this accounting the vote. So long as your intention is made clear, your vote will count – we recommend sticking to the traditional cross using the pens provided, just to be on the safe side.”
Day off Blog Post 7 (30 minutes)