I started this weekly series because I found myself grumbling about things in my life all the time and forgetting that I actually have a whole heap to be thankful for. This week, I’m taking a look at what I have to be thankful for in our system of government. It’s highly topical of course – Australia is in the middle of a Federal Election Campaign. To be honest, I’m not very into it this year. There seems very little in the way of policy discussion, and the two major parties (ALP & LNP) seem to be becoming very close ideologically. I live in a incredibly safe Liberal seat, which has only been held by the ALP for four, non-consecutive years since our electorate was declared in 1947. The thing is, though, I could by living in Egypt or Iran, or North Korea. So, I actually have A LOT to be thankful for…
I am thankful that I am free to vote for whoever I chose, without the threat of violence or death. Sure, family and friend might not understand why I voted for a particular candidate, and those ‘how to vote’ flyers are seriously annoying. But no one is actually going to try and physically intimidate me to vote for someone. My vote, as long as I follow the actual procedure, will be counted – no matter who I voted for.
I am grateful for the ability to contact all my local candidates, my local MPs, my senators (state & federal), my Premier, my Prime Minister, My Governor General. I can send all these politicians emails and letters. I can call or even visit them in person. I can say what I want – as long as it isn’t threatening their person – without fear. I might even get a personal response, as I did in year 6 when I wrote the then PM John Howard about children in detention centres.
I am thankful that in this country, we are able to publicly critique our political representatives. We can speak, tweet, blog about their performance. I can say to the ALP & LNP that I’m disappointed with their ideas around Refugees arriving by boat, and foreign aid. I can demand better from them – all in the public sphere. Our media is free to publish what it wants – sometimes it goes a bit overboard – but it’s still free to publish or broadcast anything.
I know our system isn’t perfect. No political system is, because humans are fallible. What I’m really thankful for this week, I guess, is actually political freedom. So many people in our world don’t have that, so I’m grateful that I do – and that i can grumble all I want about it!