[Update: I’m loving The Conversation’s FactCheck series. Academics dissect election spin, telling us whether the claims are true based on decent information. Of course it’s still opinion, but at least it’s reasonably transparent opinion.]
I used to vote Liberal. I know, I know. What the actual fuck was I thinking?
The problem was, I wasn’t thinking at all. I voted Liberal because my parents did. I voted Liberal because I had a six-o’clock-news-depth understanding of the political landscape in this country and virtually no understanding of the policies I was voting for. I was naive, uninformed and unduly influenced by my parents’ (dare I say it) mis/un-informed voting practices.
But I’m a grown up now and I have no excuse for making uninformed decisions. So this election, I’m taking my voting responsibilities seriously, and I’m doing some research before I cast my vote. In fact, I’ve taken this approach for quite some time now, but the need to vote responsibly and in an informed way is even more important this time around, and here’s why: none of the options are good.
I am afraid of what an Abbott-led government would look like and what its impact might be. But I am also ashamed of and appalled by the reality of the Rudd-led government we currently have.
Get informed. And get informed on a broad range of policies from multiple sources. Don’t get sucked in by the lure of 26 weeks paid maternity leave at your full salary, or a promise to get the budget into surplus, or <insert shiny policy here>. Get across a broad range of policies and make sure you can live with the policies that come along with that shiny lure before you cast your vote. Get your information from more than one source and be aware of bias in reporting. Start with one of the policy comparison tools available from a media outlet but don’t stop there. Read the policy information published by the parties. Read information that comes from outside the mainstream media.
Get informed about the person you’re voting for – not the leader of their party. Vote for someone because you believe they are going to represent you and your interests, not someone who belongs to a party led by Your Favourite PM Option. Get on the Facebook pages of the candidates in your electorate and ask them the tough questions.
This election season, we have unprecedented access to information and to candidates. It is possible to make an informed decision, even though the options aren’t all that great. And when the options aren’t great, it’s even more important that our decisions are informed. Please, don’t turn up to vote not knowing who you’re going to vote for. Don’t turn up to vote determined to vote for the party you’ve always voted for just cause you always vote for them. Vote for a person. Vote for policy. Vote in an informed way.