OPINION: An election year always encourages open debate on the pressing issues of the day.
In your dreams.
Politics has become something that is only talked about with trusted friends.
Children's ears are kept away from those who discuss politics publicly in case they pick up unacceptable views.
We vote on appearances and personalities and hope the policies behind the facade will not be as superficial as the reasons for supporting them.
So often voting decisions are made on impressions created by advertising agencies rather than research into what parties represent.
The young seem at a loss as to what it is all about; most unaware of the gift that is the democratic right they hold.
Anzac Day reminds me of those who sacrificed their lives fighting the evils of fascism, separatism, and hate in far-flung parts of the world. These soldiers didn't see themselves as fighting something or somebody, but rather defending our democracy.
I imagine the closer your generation is to the times our democratic right has been threatened the more passionate you are about exercising it.
In recent years politicians have been rated at the bottom of the professions list for honesty, and trustworthiness. I think this is probably because politicians are not what their publicists would like to portray. They like to present their products in an orchestrated and well controlled televised environment.
If we want to expect more of our politicians, engage with them. Exercise your right to vote. Be the inquiring eyes, ask the probing questions, and ensure you see them as they really are, not the embellished TV version.
Make the effort to go beyond personality and discuss politics, it is your right and responsibility, only the ballot is secret.
- The Southland Times