New South Wales, Australia is on the cusp of one its defining moments for the next 4 years. That's right, its election time. A chance to express my democratic freedom and elect a representative from amongst my peers to represent my interests a make decisions on my behalf.
But every time the writ is issued and the rolls are closed I start to ponder who should I vote for. Oh, and not just who, but in what order (ah, the beauty of the preferential system). Should I give my first preference to the Australian Labour Party, the Liberals (who are really quite conservative), or the Christian Democratic Party? After I've figured that out, who then gets the number 2 spot?
I don't know how many other people fret about this decision. I suspect that many people chose to sit in ignorance, or happily toe the party line. The simplicity of such a position is very attractive - you turn up on election day. You get the 'how to vote' card from a representative of your party of choice and tick the boxes how they tell you to tick.
For me, however, there is something that doesn't feel right about doing it that way. Its like only ever buying brand name products - not because they're necessarily the best, in fact they rot your teeth faster and have more sugar, but because there is an image and a feeling of safety because you know what your getting.
So wanting to be a responsible voter I take the time to think about and way up why I should vote for one over the other. This itself is the most frustrating exercise one can ever undertake!
Firstly you need to deal with the flak each side is throwing up - each side tearing down the other while telling you what to think is important and not important. Afterwards you're left to sift through pages of policy written in enough doublespeak to make George Orwell cry.
You're then left with two groups. If they were fruit the groups would be the types of fruit you'd never eat versus the types that you would eat, but with none of it being particularly exciting. They all offer mostly the same choices, with a few twists, making it nearly impossible to choose one over the other.
But in the end voting based purely on the party would be to ignore the fact that you're voting for individuals. Individuals that have their own priorities and their own values. Do I vote for the lazy, stubborn person, with the party I do like, or the hard working, open minded person, with the party I don't like.
What do I do? Its largely inconsequential, I have other things to worry about and my vote is a drop in the bucket. I still feel that I should put effort into making a sensible choice, but if no one else does, then it won't make much difference. I think I'll sleep on it.