Talking to Strangers: Thoughts on Voting
You know when you’re waiting for a bus or in-line at a Starbucks? And you see that familiar face you see every time you’re there? Have you ever wanted to talk to them but you were too shy or thought you may look like a lunatic for doing so? Well don’t worry, that’s why I’m here!
The following is a series of casual interviews I conducted with various random folk who attended the May Day Festival in Manchester. As the election is just around the corner, I was interested to see what people thought about the whole voting thing. So, this is their responses. These are the strangers that you see every day but never talk to. These are your strangers.
Setting the Scene
I should explain what the Manchester May Day Festival is. It’s a chaotic infusion of free speech, free music, free cake and of course, booze.
My first victim was this beautifully bearded lumberjack looking fellow named Chris:-
And here is what his voice sounds like:
The second stranger I questioned was Ian, a Health and Safety Officer. Ian was a noble, kindhearted fella that had this to say:
I thought at this point it was probably best that I balanced out these interviews by getting a female point of view. Serendipity struck! I met feminist and political activist Bridget..
Bridget is a Press Officer who supports TUSC (the Trade Unions and Socialist Commission). I had never heard of this party until today. She told me that she is sick of the voting system. She said that we currently live with a voting system that threatens:
“Vote Labour or you’ll get Tory”
I was inclined to agree with her. Bridget said that she supported TUSC as it aims to challenge the voting system via piece-meal change. She also supports TUSC because it supports their local communities – for example, they stopped a man from Lewisham being evicted. She also explained that
“Politics is football”
We have a culture that encourages a lot of men to be interested in politics but women are often neglected. I felt that this was a fair point as I myself was struggling to find women to interview regarding voting!
I then talked to Lucy. She was petite, pretty and political. I didn’t have a stereo-typical script in my brain that could categorise Lucy. My lack of exposure to female politicians was likely a reflection of this. It made me think more about what Bridget said – that women are often neglected in politics. Certainly, there should be more coverage of people like Bridget and Lucy in the media.
Lucy explained that everyone should vote Green because it’s the only party offering genuine change due to its significant power base. Her friend also added that we should
“Vote for something you believe in… make the first step”
This made me think more about what Bridget said – that we shouldn’t vote for Labour out of fear of the Tories. I then asked Lucy about the voting system and whether the whole thing was pointless. After all, if everyone voted for the Greens, then they would still not win enough seats to run the country. She responded by saying that a Green revolution would take time. By continually voting for the Greens and supporting them, they will win piece-meal power and direct the country towards social progress.
Finally, I found this gentleman named Andres. You could tell that this fella had read a lot of books. Again, like Ian, I got the impression that this guy would do anything for anyone and he really did just want to help people. When I met him, he was helping support an alternative news paper call ‘The Militant’.
Andres had some well articulated, thought-out ideas of the world. He explained to me that the voting system doesn’t really mean that much to him. He said that his goal is to effect his immediate environment rather than rely on a political party.
He then drew parallels with Malcolm X. He said that the black community has often been the vanguard in political struggle, throughout history – meaning that the black community has often been the ones pushing for real change in society. He explained that this is what is happening today by making reference to the recent events in Baltimore and Ferguson.
When I asked him if he thinks history is repeating itself he said, no. Conversely, he thinks that society is actually making social progress. Andres explained that these black communities have been working along side other protest groups such as that of the fast food workers to push for positive social change – such as fairer pay, greater social justice, etc. He explained that this is what real politics is. Its not just ticking a box once every couple of years.