The short answer is: Yes.

The more reasoned answer is: Hopefully.

But the crucial part of this question is unspoken. Do you intend to vote?

This week has had a lot to process in terms of political shenanigans. I won’t even begin to consider discussing the Trump firing of Comey even though it is hardly surprising. He is known for firing people. That’s his jam.

From fox hunting being put back on the discussion table to leaked manifestos. It can be so easy to become wary of dipping your toe into the political debate. Where do you even begin? Is there any point?

I think we all know what I am going to say. There is definitely a point. Democracy feels so much more fragile than I ever thought possible at the moment. Looking at the USA and seeing how checks and balances which are in place to curb the power of the President can be thwarted if those controlling the power prefer having the power to doing the right thing is worrying. Our own parliament could end up in a similar position if we do not have a strong and robust opposition. Apathy towards the privilege of voting can lead to significant consequences. I always squirm when you see strongly worded Facebook statuses telling people they can’t moan if they don’t vote. I’ve written more than one of these statuses myself. But Brexit has taught me a very valuable lesson. Nagging, berating, insulting and misunderstanding the people voting in a different way to you will not change their minds. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t attempt to engage in meaningful debate though. Far from it. Finding a way to lovingly discuss our political differences is a great aim. Am I prepared to do this? Can I challenge and be challenged?

This image appeared on my newsfeed* a lot this week.

I found it quite shocking. The difference in who people voted for isn’t surprising but the difference in numbers of non-voters is staggering. Why wouldn’t people vote? Of course, there are a variety of reasons for not voting. I want to blame the elderly because, y’know, they’re old but the turnout of over 65s was 78% in 2015. In fact, the people who have the most to gain from voting as it will affect them for longer (ie. those lovely 18-24 year olds with all their youth and optimism) had a voting turnout of 48%. But can they be blamed? Do our political leaders show an understanding of the challenges facing that demographic? Can they identify with them? Can we? Do we ever consider the needs of others when voting or do we solely judge it on what is best for us and our nuclear family? When people feel forgotten then their voting can look very different to what we might expect.

Another image from this week feels apt in the build up to 8th June.

The living legend that is Brené Brown as always manages to cut to the chase with her articulate words. If integrity is choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them then voting is a great opportunity to do this. To do this well then we need to be informed. We need to understand the policies being proposed by the different parties. We need to find out what that means in practical terms. If you know anyone who works in education or the NHS then talk to them. Find out what is going on at the grassroots. Ask them how they would like to see things improve or change. Read more than one newspaper or online news outlet. Try and find a publication which has very different views from you and see how the same issue if being presented. Don’t avoid political discussions and don’t be afraid to admit when you haven’t got enough information to have an opinion on something. Who we vote for is deeply personal but it also has a much wider impact than ourselves. Know who you are voting for and why. Encourage your friends and family to do the same.

No matter what we wake up to on 9th June, I hope we will all feel that we have acted with integrity.

PS- if you haven’t registered to vote then you can do so here 

*The voter turn out image was copied from the Facebook page of bloc.

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