Just when I thought we were getting a commercial break from the endless electioneering (ie Trump, Brexit etc, which don’t even involve us!!!), we’re having a local, State by-election.
That’s right. We’re heading back to the ballot box.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, before they’d even announced the candidates, my phone had already started ringing…who are you going to vote for?
The pollsters were out.
You see, being the most marginal seat in NSW, this isn’t any ordinary election! We might have huge potholes in our roads which the local ducks use as swimming pools, yet when election time comes, the big wigs roll in. Sometimes, it feels like the aliens have landed.
Indeed, perhaps they have.
Back when my son was a baby, he even had his photo taken with then Prime Minister, John Howard. You should have seen his minders clearing the decks for the baby. Mind you, his mother was pretty keen as well. Although we’re a marginal seat at both State and Federal levels, it’s not often the PM comes to town.
Yet, all those suits can be a bit of a culture shock.
In many ways, we’re a casual, and even alternative, beach community. It’s not that we don’t have our local businesses and I used to work for one. However, the overall feel here is a lot more relaxed than Sydney. Moreover, commuting to Sydney for work is a way of life. My husband works in Sydney.
Anyway, last weekend before the candidates had even been announced, the pollsters were already hitting the phones. After being a market research interviewer all through university, I always answer a survey. That’s how I found myself giving my opinions on the upcoming election.
The only trouble was, that I haven’t exactly been in the land of the living lately. Early in the New Year, we headed off to Tasmania for three weeks and to be perfect honest, although the kids are back at school and Geoff’s returned to work, I haven’t quite returned yet. I’m still printing photos, researching Geoff’s convict origins and family ties and eating my way through Ashgrove Farms Cheese, Anvers chocolate and drinking Spreyton’s Hard Ginger Beer (and already planning my next trip to restock!). The trees around here are also looking short and while it’s a relief not to be dodging multitudes of Bennett’s wallabies beside the roads, we’re back watching out for the local ducks, who’ve trained the cars to stop. And while I’m missing Tassie, I should point out that I’m glad to be home and back to our beach. We do live in a slice of paradise.
When the market research interviewer called, I was hardly primed with all the right answers. In addition to being wrapped up in our Tassie experience, I was also stuck on my usual dilemma…what to cook for dinner! They actually hit me with a long list of names and asked me what I thought of various people. Some I knew, some I didn’t but had the feeling that I should. The whole thing was also a bit tricky given I didn’t know who was running and they were almost insisting that I pick a party. I know this might make sense to them when they’re trying to uncover “the mood of the electorate”, predict which party is likely to win and forecast which issues are going to be the tipping point. However, all this becomes quite semantic in a marginal seat.
After all, if we knew who we were going to vote for before they’ve even announced the candidates, we wouldn’t be a marginal seat. At least, that’s my thinking and it’s my thinking that matters because I’ m an undecided voter. Not necessarily a swinging or apathetic voter. More of an idealist…a visionary. Who are these people running and what do they really stand for? What are they going to do for our community? I’m not so sure I trust “the party”. Any party.
So, rather than describing myself as “unpolitical” as I have done, I’m actually uber-political and I’m not going to let someone else make up my mind. I’m going to do my research. Check these candidates out and find out if they’re people of substance…or not.
I owe our community that conscious vote, because when you live in a marginal seat, your vote really does matter. It counts.
Well, at least your vote can help determine which of the major parties gets in or perhaps even an independent.
Meanwhile, there’s still the pen and the keyboard at my disposal. Quite frankly, the pen is more powerful than the ballot box any day…a place where every underdog can have their say and at least self-publish. Yahoo!
What are your thoughts about the place of the individual in the current political scene? Do you think we actually matter or has the machine wiped out the individual? Please share. I’d love to hear from you!