At the moment we are in the final days of our national elections and like many people I have some opinions. One of them comes from some of the comments I have been seeing in social media and hearing in discussions around the place. Much of the discussion seems to be based on the personalities of the politicians, not their policies or practice. If we vote based on personality does that not lead to us being easily manipulated? I kind of think so and it concerns me hugely. As citizens our voice is in our vote and this should give our politicians a sense of accountability but if we are the easily manipulated masses who are just voting in a personality contest then we lose the power we have and give them licence to practice without concern for the voice of the people who have put them there in the first place.
I have worked a lot with boards of community organisations, volunteers and schools. In one situation there was a charismatic person, well connected, a great storyteller, who was a brilliant wheeler and dealer and managed to avert a couple of potential crises although I am not entirely sure of how he did it. He had been with the organisation for significant time and was well liked. He moved on and was followed by almost his complete opposite. We were a little taken aback when first introduced to this quiet, serious gentleman who at times appeared to lack some confidence. While we didn't recognise it initially he offered us a lot. He was thoughtful, listened well and presented us with full information rather than the shiny version of what we might like to hear. He offered us options with a dispassionate analysis of potential outcomes. As it turned out he had a dry wit and was very kind and considerate on top of it all.
Each of these gentlemen gave us something in their time, as most leaders do I believe. The point is if we only vote based on personality the second gentlemen in this example would never have had the opportunity, yet what he gave us was something the first person couldn't and he put us in a stronger more secure position than we had been in previously.
That we have the right to vote here and that we have a range of options in our voting when so many do not have the freedom or opportunity to be heard means to me that we have a duty to vote consciously. I haven't always taken this privilege seriously but I do now. Do not be taken in by advertisements, they are not policy or representation of practice, they are cleverly created pieces of work made by people whose job it is to convince us to buy what they are selling... the ads are just marketing. Be mindful of the media and be aware of who you are listening to. I think that skepticism is a handy perspective to adopt when considering where you will put your vote.