Actions have consequences. If I kick a rock, my big toe will feel sore. If I leave the house at 8.15 am for the 8.16 am train, I’ll miss it. If I betray my best friend, I’ll in all likelihood lose my best friend.
Why state the obvious on election day? Because quite a few people don’t seem to fully appreciate how what they do today will result in a changed situation. If you vote for a particular candidate, the result is you’ve increased the chances of that candidate being elected. If you vote for his/her opponent, you’ve increased the chances of the opponent being declared winner.
“Yeah, well I’m not voting for any of them, so I’m not going to create any consequences, am I?” Well yes you are. If you don’t vote, you’ve left a gap which the ultimate winner will be able to exploit. Think about it: if enough people in South Belfast decided not to vote, the result will be decided in part by the absence of your X. There’s no escaping it. We’re all tied up in this electoral business, and the results of votes cast or not cast will resound through history.
That’s how important it is. North Belfast could elect Nigel Dodds. He’s been the MP since 2001, and as a result he’s been able to lead the DUP in Westminster as they support a Tory Brexit. Part of his campaign propaganda has been that he was (almost) attacked when visiting his sick son in hospital, and his opponent hasn’t condemned that event. He doesn’t mention that his opponent’s father was butchered in his own home in front of his family.
And there are other instances. Colm Eastwood declares that, if elected, he will be able to speak up for those of us in the NE Stateen. John Hume served as an MP for many years in the same constituency– did his presence in the House of Commons result in positive change.?Yes, he had influence in Europe, yes he had influence in the United States, but in Westminster he could have been a banana for all the difference it made. Colm Eastwood, if elected, would have the impact of a banana peel.
Today, if all the Catholics/nationalists/republicans who can vote, did vote, they would upend any number of predictions. Their actions could result in the most extraordinary changes in representation. And while a seat in the House of Commons won’t make a fiddler’s duck of difference, the status of MP will open doors and influence people in Ireland, in England, in Scotland, in the US.
The next five years could well be among the most vital in Ireland’s entire history. And no, Virginia, that is not an exaggeration. We can contribute to that by way of who we elect. But we won’t elect anyone if we decide to sit at home and scratch our oxters.
It’s no big demand. Postpone that ten minute snooze. Postpone staring at the telly. Get down to the bloody polling centre and make sure your shoulder is to the wheel. In all constituencies but particularly North Belfast, we would then get the kind of result that could change history.