Democracy is often touted as the ‘holy grail’ of international politics. It is the system those who live under fascist, communist or dictatorial regimes aspire to. People have died fighting for the right to have their say about who will make decisions affecting their nation’s future.
This year, a series of international events have led some social commentators to seriously considering whether democracy is all it’s cracked up to be.
In the US, an openly racist reality TV personality might actually become the leader of the free world.
In Britain, the shock of the Brexit decision has been followed by a wave of ‘Bregret’ – leave voters who used their vote to register disenchantment at the political system suddenly faced with the reality of what they have voted for.
In Australia, a plethora of fringe parties enjoy surprising success through the power of the ‘protest’ vote.
The Vic/Tas Synod recently spent five days determining the direction of the Church. Throughout that time, Synod members discussed, discerned, prayed and, ultimately, decided.
The consensus decision making process is complex. Rather than simply ticking ‘yes’ or ‘no’, or numbering boxes from 1 to 45, members ensure they fully understand issues and carefully consider the consequences of decisions. Those making decisions honour their duty to the wider church community. Wisdom, responsibility and a sense of belonging is achieved through this process.
Much has been written about cynicism in the political process. While this is often understandable, does registering a ‘donkey’ vote actually enhance the system we live under? Maybe, like members of Synod, we should consider our decision for a little longer than the time it takes to eat a sausage as we stand in line at the local school.
As Australia heads to the polls tomorrow – and a possible plebiscite in the next few months – perhaps it is time to ensure that along with the right to vote, comes the responsibility to use that vote wisely.
Tell us your views. Are we using our democratic vote responsibly?
For more information on how to make your vote count, go to: www.aec.gov.au/Voting/How_to_Vote/
Image by Alex Proimos via Flickr.