How I Recommend You Vote In The Coming Federal Election
The Federal election is on Saturday, May 18th – only a few weeks away! Have you decided for whom you’re going to vote? If not, this article may help.
Voting – Choice Or Chore?
It’s easy to take what you have for granted. Where you live or work. Your partner and what s/he does for you. And the right to not only cast a vote, but to do so without fear of violence, coercion or reprisals based on your choice. It is not the same in other countries, where voting can be rigged, or could be downright dangerous to your health.
Given you have the freedom and the right to vote, which was hard fought to protect, I urge you to use it and not cast it aside as irrelevant or inconsequential. Yes, we’re all a bit ambivalent towards politicians, and often for good reason, but let’s not confuse that with respecting and protecting our right to have a say by casting our vote.
Which Camp Are You In?
Which of the following six camps are you in?
Group 1 – Loyalists
Loyalists are those who vote according to custom or tradition, and feel like they’re being disloyal if they vote any other way. Perhaps your grandparents and parents have all voted a certain way, and, like your favourite sporting team, barracking or supporting any other team would be close to treasonous.
If that’s you, then so be it. It probably doesn’t matter what each political party’s, or individual candidates, policies are; on principle you’re convinced that one mob is better than all the others, and that’s that.
I used to be a loyalist, but then I realised that this approach is sort of squandering the ability to choose the best person with the best skills, experience and wherewithal to represent my interests (which change over time) in the political coliseum of Canberra (which also changes over time). Surely it can’t be the same person or party in every circumstance, every time, can it?
Group 2 – Intellectuals
The second group are those who reason through how they’ll vote. You’re in this camp if you go to the effort to find out who your local candidates are, what their policies are, and to think through who offers you the most upside for the least downside, and vote accordingly.
You might have a bias about who you normally ‘align’ with, but you’re not wedded to them and are open to considering another person or party if they show you a compelling reason to vote for them.
I used to be an intellectual, but suffered from information overload leading to analysis paralysis. I also became disillusioned that too many politicians say one thing and generally do another, so what’s the point?
Group 3 – Idealists
Idealists align themselves to an ideal, or a cause, and vote with the person or party that best aligns to that cause. Marriage equality, penalty rates, climate action, etc. are all ideals that many people feel strongly about.
The problem with being an idealist is that no candidate, nor political party, will perfectly mesh with all your ideals, meaning you’re going to have to compromise on one or more important principles, and that can lead to personal conflict.
For instance, one candidate might have a climate policy you support, but not align on immigration. Perhaps they have a health policy that you think is great, but not their stance on, say, franking credit refunds.
The risk with being an idealist is that you align to a broad cause or vision, without understanding the details of exactly how or what will happen to achieve it. This means that you can end up casting an aspirational vote, but end up becoming despondent and disillusioned when action is delayed or discontinued.
Group 4 –Self Sacrificers
A ballot self sacrificer is someone who votes in a way that Spock would be proud of; believing the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. That is, they vote in a way they think would be best for the country, even if it means it will be bad for them – for instance, by providing better payments to pensioners at the cost of having to pay more income tax.
If this is you, then thank you for your sacrifice.
Group 5 – Protesters
This group has a bee in their bonnet and wants to cast what I call an ‘angry’ or ‘hear me’ vote. Something, or someone, has upset them and, feeling unable to express their anger in any other way, they will take the opportunity to vent at the ballot box.
This is me in this election. My local member is going last on my House of Reps ballot paper. Why? Well, after many requests he reluctantly finally met with me, and it became clear that he was only there for himself and his party. That is, I was there to serve his purposes, not the other way round. Maybe I was being a little naïve in my thinking, but being told to run off to bed and let the adults talk about important issues was such a put down that I’ll be voting for anyone but him.
Now, having decided who I’m not voting for, I switched back to being part intellectual, part idealist to see who else is available.
Group 6 – Informals & Donkeys
This final group either don’t like being made to vote, or else they don’t care who is elected, so they will either randomly or thoughtlessly cast their vote, or else they’ll ensure their vote doesn’t count at all.
I’m always amused by the stories of what people draw on their voting papers – a penis, an elephant, angry words, etc.
Unless you’re a staunch loyalist, it’s unlikely that you reside in just one camp. Instead you’ll belong to two or more of the six groups outlined above, and you might even move between them as time and circumstances change. That said, which group(s) are you in at this time, and why?
Who is getting your vote this time, and why?
Here’s how I recommend you vote… honestly and humbly.
Be honest to yourself, and with yourself. Understand why you vote the way you do rather than doing it in a pre-programmed or mindless manner.
Be humble. Appreciate and value a great freedom you have – something that citizens of some other countries don’t have – your chance to have a fair, equal and important say in the future of the nation. You’ll find the right vote – the best vote – for you at the intersection of your own honest and humble reflection.
All the best,
– Steve McKnight
P.S. On an intellectual and idealist level, I found that SmartVote was a useful tool that helped me to decide which candidate is most aligned to my own values.
It’s an online questionnaire published by Australia National University. I recommend it to you. Here’s the link: https://australia.smartvote.org/en/home