Photo by Tara Winstead PEXELS
Why AMY BUTLER is taking a carload of teenagers to vote in Saturday’s election
As polling day looms, I am thinking about the new generation of voters. My daughter is freshly 18 and on voting day, I plan to drive a carload of her friends to experience their first taste of democratic citizenship. In fact, this is the first election in NSW’s history where the majority of voters are under the age of 40. This signals a shift of democratic power – the Baby Boomers have had their time and the next generation’s voice is getting increasingly louder.
Speaking of voices, in the pre-election media, ‘voice’ is an important concept. Indigenous Australians, minority groups and young adults are finding and using their voices. People want to speak for themselves. This is the very foundation of democracy and why the right to vote has been historically so important. Despite our relative freedom and privilege, now is not the time to let apathy or disillusionment distract us. More than ever we need to vote thoughtfully and encourage new voters to appreciate both the privilege and responsibility of participating in democracy. Those who choose to be apathetic or casual about their voting take for granted the stability we enjoy in Australia. This is not the case for other ‘democracies’ around the world. Let’s be grateful to God that voting day will not signal rioting, violence and unchecked corruption. We can demonstrate our gratitude for this by voting conscientiously and cheerfully.
But, how exactly should we advise young voters? What about when we ourselves feel that we have no reasonable options? This year, I am thankful for the wisdom of others who can help me understand how to cast my vote strategically – even when I don’t feel particularly aligned to any one candidate or party. Ensuring you are well informed and ready to participate well is important. As a fellow GS&C colleague helpfully points out: “We need to stand up and be counted. Be involved, informed and responsible. Engage. Instead of expecting the politician to knock on your door, knock on theirs. Tell them what a follower of Jesus thinks. Put smart pressure on them to raise the bar of expectation”.
At the very least, we can think about who we don’t want to be elected, and vote ‘from the bottom’. Even, or especially, when the political situation seems disheartening or confusing — your voice, your Christian voice, matters.
Finally, as I consider my own voting choices and those of the new generation, I must remember to pray. The New Testament exhorts us to pray for our political leaders (1 Tim 2:2) and entrust all things to God. He sees kingdoms rise and fall, and is the one we should turn to for wisdom and comfort as we vote. Let’s encourage the new generation of voters to do the same.
I hope that as I walk into the polling booth with my daughter, I can demonstrate both a gratitude for my democratic responsibility and a hope that supersedes any election result.
Links to help people of faith in their voting decisions
The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers