You’ve probably heard that it’s election day tomorrow.
I mean if you haven’t, I’m not sure what you’ve been doing but either way: Welcome to the party.
Like many Brits you will be thinking: Why on earth should I vote in the EU parliament elections when at this point, we don’t even know if we’re going to stay, leave or both.
Though I realise there will be lots of varying opinions about Brexit, the EU in general and all various political spectrums reflected in those of you reading this ‘lil blog of mine, I believe that we SHOULD all vote – so I decided to write down my 5 reasons why.
I am by no means a political expert, didn’t have time to do crazy amounts of research or even claim to know all the ins and outs of things and therefore honestly wrestled with whether I should even write this; but then I thought that’s exactly the problem.
A lot of us don’t engage, communicate and process where we’re at with politics because we have grown fatigued (for obvious reasons) – but that’s incredibly dangerous!! Democracy only works if we all understand and make use of the power of our contribution. Otherwise it is exactly what it kind of feels like at the moment: A whole bunch of mostly white old men (with some exceptions I know) deciding all of our future.
I do however also believe, that if we don’t engage we can’t complain. So here I am engaging a little. This won’t be the deepest and most profound thing you’ve ever read and if you know all the things about politics this article isn’t for you.
It’s for those of us who don’t really know what to think and kind of can’t be bothered to go to the polling station tomorrow because there is so much else that is seemingly more important that we have to get on with.
It’s a reminder to us that this tiny little inconvenience might actually just be worth it…
Hope this read nudges some of us over the line and gives us the necessary motivation to GO VOTE tomorrow.
(Writing it eliminated any sense of indifference left from my mind that’s for sure…)
1. Somebody most likely died for my right to vote – I don’t want to spit on their legacy by not voting
Yup I went there….
I won’t dwell on this one because it’s kind of obvious, but here are some hard facts:
If you – like me – are a woman over 30 it’s only since 1918 that we’ve been allowed to vote in this country. Those of you 21 and over have only been allowed to vote since 1928. That’s only 91 years ago.
(In other countries this happened even later. Like Saudi Arabia, where women only gained the right to vote in 2011.)
If you are a person of colour, things have been more complicated for longer and real voting rights equality is something that some of our fellow brothers and sisters across the globe still don’t have.
If you are a white man from what we would call lower income backgrounds you’re not exempt from the struggle. Depending on where you lived and whether you owned property or not some of you only got voting rights in 1918 along with your fellow 30 and over aged women.
None of these milestones have come easy, as a matter of fact they all came at a price. From the suffragette movement here in the UK, let alone the various revolutions and movements across Europe to ensure all men and women would have the right to vote, they came at great personal cost to those who have come before us.
Last year I walked across Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama where hundreds were brutally attacked and beaten by State Troopers – they were marching for their (and my) right to vote. I even got to meet one of the brave women who marched and organized on that day. That experience shaped me forever.
Now I know you’re probably not American, but trust me, their sacrifice had impacts way beyond their own community…
Voting is a privilege and a right that someone else has fought for you and me to have.
So regardless of whether you are Remain or Leave – go vote. Not voting, in my ideological and slightly radical mind, is like spitting on the graves of those who got us voting rights in the first place.
There I said it.
2. A healthy united Europe is better for all of us – whether we somehow manage to stay in the EU or not. History proves it.
Last week I got to spend a couple of days in Brussels with my uncle.
Among many other things, we naturally talked about Brexit and the state of the EU; one particular conversation we had hasn’t let me sleep peacefully since: after we spent a few hours in the House of European History I was so moved by the massive turn around we have seen across this continent and reminded yet again how incredibly important remembering history accurately is.
World War 1 and World War 2 literally happened within 20 years of each other. My great grandparents had to suffer through both – and my grandparents were refugees at the end of World War 2.
It is estimated that 70-85 million people died during World War 2 alone.
Those two wars however are only the most recent ones in our history. The decades and centuries before that, were marked by instability, wars amongst European kingdoms, nations, people groups, classes – you name it.
Now I realize that we have evolved as a people (or so we think), but don’t be fooled – we are currently living in the fruit of a united Europe. A Europe whose economy is connected, whose human rights are protected and where nations are held accountable for their actions (to an extent) and much more.
Sure, there are things that could be better, but I’m pretty sure my grandparents generation would argue that we have it pretty sweet…and it would be foolishness to think that that’s not a direct consequence of the tireless efforts of reconciliation and shared responsibility across European nations.
Getting too comfortable with what we have now without acknowledging and standing for the principles that got us here is very dangerous.
Whether or not the UK stays in the EU in the current arrangement, it is in our interest to see Europe healthy. And who gets to have a say in the European Parliament plays a big role in that. There are those who seek to see the EU crumble for their own gain (I know I sound like a conspiracy theorist but wait until you read the next point…) and they are currently pumping a lot of money into the campaigns of those parties and individuals who will seek to erode the EU from the inside.
Let’s not let them play us.
A healthy EU is a healthy Europe – whether the UK is in the union or not.
3. There is a right-wing populist movement sweeping the continent (and the world really) and this election could give them the kind of fuel they need – which could have disastrous consequences…
I don’t know about you, but I kind of knew about this so called ‘populist wave’ sweeping the continent and the world and yet, when I read this article about what happened in Austria just a few days ago, I was just a little bit freaked out.
Let me quote some bits for you:
‘Chancellor Sebastian Kurz called snap elections after the country’s far-right vice chancellor resigned over a secretly filmed video from 2017. The video showed Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache of the far-right Freedom Party promising government contracts to a woman claiming to be a prospective investor and niece of a Russian oligarch close to President Vladimir V. Putin. [….]
The scandal comes at an important political moment in the European Union. Across the Continent, far-right, populist leaders are campaigning hard before this coming week’s elections for the European Parliament and seem poised to increase their share in the chamber.
Many of Europe’s populists share Mr. Putin’s intentions to widen political divisions and weaken Western institutions. Those tactics have involved interfering in democratic campaigns including the United States 2016 elections. And a Russian woman, Maria Butina, was sentenced to 18 months in prison last December after admitting that she had been part of that effort.
Not long ago, far-right parties were on the fringes of European politics. But like Austria’s Freedom Party, several are now part of coalition governments. Some populist leaders, particularly in the Scandinavian countries and Poland, are wary of Russia. But others are outspoken in their desire for closer ties to the Kremlin.’
See what I mean?
Even if just a little bit of this article is true (and if you look at the trends across Europe, it certainly is) for more reasons than we have time for right now, Europe is swinging right, a little too far right some might say. And the reality is, if the predictions are true, anti-EU and far-right parties might win more seats than ever in these elections tomorrow – a win that, though not (yet) significant in terms of their voice / decision power in the European parliament, very significant in terms of momentum they can and will gain.
I know enough about European history to know, that a swing to the right can quickly swing way too far. Franco, Mussolini and Hitler aren’t that long ago.
I know this sounds like doomsday talk and that’s not what I am trying to do. I do think however that we have to face the reality that something is happening across this continent and whether or not those of us who disagree with these populist movements show up to vote tomorrow actually makes a huge difference.
4. We’ve seen what happens if us ‘general public’ don’t show up
Now let’s be honest, whether you are Leave or Remain, we were all surprised at the results in 2016. Those who voted leave voted in a faint hope that maybe just maybe the odds would be in their favor. Those who voted remain didn’t even think that Brexit might ever materialize. And then there were those who didn’t vote… 27.8% of eligible U.K. voters DID NOT VOTE in the referendum.
Most of us Remainers (now you know where I stand 😉) were shocked to the point of despair (I’m obviously talking about someone else, not me).
Though I am not a political analyst I have a feeling that had those remaining 27.8% shown up, we might have had a different outcome, especially when you look at how incredibly close the decision was (48.1 Remain / 51.9 Leave).
Any one percent of those 27.8% could’ve made a significant difference…
Or not. But at least then we’d known, that this was really what the majority of people wanted.
5 years ago only 42.6 %  of Europeans eligible to vote turned up at the polls…5 years ago we were in a different place.
These days we are in a tough spot (as I touched on before) and EVERY SINGLE ONE of us in the middle of things, which really is most of us even though we might be more left or right of centre – have the power to impact whether or not the waves calm down or not.
5. We are all part of something bigger – whether we like it or not.
One of my heroes and inspirations Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said this:
‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.’
Here’s the thing. If this was true then, it is all the more true now.
We live in a globalised world and though we might leave the EU on paper, we will continue to be affected by what goes on over there on the continent. More than that, I believe it is imperative for us as individuals to have a healthy understanding that – despite what ‘they’ try and tell us – we cannot just ‘do me’ and only worry about ourselves. Reality doesn’t work that way. To be a healthy human our awareness of how connected we all are is crucial and we should care about what’s going on around us.
It might not affect us directly right now – but it will somehow affect us indirectly.
Whether in form of the world we leave for our children, the examples we set or the very real consequences a fractured Europe might have on the economy and the peace we’ve known for so long.
Your vote, my vote, matters.
So let’s go vote tomorrow, shall we?
Like I said, I’m sure there’s many more things one could say and more depth to be found if enough time was spent researching. This is just my personal conviction and last night I couldn’t sleep before deciding I would share this today.
I hope you’re in.
Whoever you vote for (I mean please don’t vote for UKIP or Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party crew… but in the spirit of Beloved Community I will still love you even if you do) show up, take your place in this story and play your part in history.
Democracy needs Us.
Thanks for reading!
Feel free to share this if you think it could help a few more people and if you’re the praying kind, let’s pray tomorrow goes well.
Peace, love and light
If you don’t know where to start or don’t know who to vote for you can start HERE
And if you’re somewhere in Europe you can click this link for more.