Monday 21 October 2019

It's important we exercise the right to cast our vote

'We owe it to all those who sacrificed so much so that we could be free to vote today to cast our ballots and to use our voices.' Stock photo
'We owe it to all those who sacrificed so much so that we could be free to vote today to cast our ballots and to use our voices.' Stock photo
Editorial

Editorial

There has always been a tension between insiders and outsiders in the political firmament. Sometimes it can be heated and divisive. At its basest, it can be reduced to an argument where "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge".

That's why it takes courage to run in any race, doubly so for the presidency of a country in a climate of dog-whistle negativity. As a quote often attributed to Winston Churchill goes: "The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."

Many of the candidates in this gruelling contest might agree, after a campaign more memorable for lows than highs.

What matters is that people should and must have a right to decide for themselves.

Some months back, five citizens felt they had the right stuff to be president.

A sixth was so convinced by his finesse in the role, he decided to stand a second time, though he had said he wouldn't. The two largest parties in the country backed him; as it was expedient to do so.

But the beauty of democracy is that no matter how brilliantly any candidate feels they might fill the office, they do not get to decide. That power and privilege is vested in you, the voter. That is why it is so important that you cast your vote. In the coming years, some of the seismic events that structured our political landscape will be commemorated.

The War of Independence and the Civil War and all the scars that went with them, and that still sear our historical psyche, will need delicate handling as the centenaries are marked. For 100 years, the shape of politics was cast in the molten lava of those volcanic events. Whoever wins today will have to tread carefully because the future, like our past, is likely to be testing.

We owe it to all those who sacrificed so much so that we could be free to vote today to cast our ballots and to use our voices.

Cynics will no doubt say there is much truth in the old saw that politics is but show-business for ugly people.

Though politics may sometimes look trite, it must be about more than entertainment.

The rancour in the race was added to by some who resented the fact that three of the candidates were distinguished more for their TV roles than their political vision. In today's world, visibility and profile can sometimes be seen to count for more than values. The spin may hit like a bludgeon, but by voting you get to be the counter force, one way or another.

Today, too, there is a referendum on whether to remove the blasphemy law.

The relationship between religion and the law is always contentious.

But either way the choice is yours, and it is important to exercise it.

Irish Independent

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