Opinion: Political shaming doesn’t help democracy, but debate does.

Elections are exciting times for many people! However, they can sometimes cause rifts between family members and friends. This is because everyone has a different view of the world and how they think change for the better can be achieved. Largely these opinions are shaped by personal experiences. Whilst you may not agree with other people’s opinions, you should, of course, respect their decisions and if you disagree, challenge their beliefs in a constructive way.

Far too often elections can get heated, on all sides of the debate. Political shaming is not healthy. Telling people their vote doesn’t count because their candidate or party won’t win, calling them names for voting a certain way, or cutting them out of your life forever because of their ideology, does nothing but put people off from engaging in politics. This is not healthy for us, for democracy, or for the causes we care so much about. Too often people steer clear of politics for this very reason.

Political discussion, on the other hand, is healthy and helps get people engaged and educated about politics. But it only works if all those debating are respected for their standpoint and not ‘shamed’, otherwise people just won’t want to get involved. If you don’t agree with someone then explain why, tell them why you’re voting your way, ask them why they’ve reached their decision, and challenge them on policy, if they end up agreeing with you then great! If they don’t, then agree to disagree, leave out the shaming, and be glad that they’re at least participating. Most importantly, don’t let it affect your friendship or personal relationships.

Politics is personal, and we should each see deciding who to vote for is a personal decision.

If someone asks you directly for advice on who to vote for it puts you in a powerful position, in that moment you are an influencer. Ultimately, if we want to see people making their own informed political decisions, rather than just blindly following a trend/crowd, we should simply be explaining our own personal reasoning for voting that way, based on our own personal experiences. Being positive about your own party is far more constructive than shaming other parties. Pressuring people to vote a certain way isn’t helpful, it just means that they’ve not really been able to think it through or consider what is right for them, really it’s just limiting their own personal political education. Let them reach their own conclusions, they might be the same as yours after all, but it’s far more constructive if they’ve reached that decision alone after hearing a few different opinions!

Having a range of political opinions amongst your friends is also good, it means you are challenging yourself, your arguments become stronger and your opinions are shaped by hearing different sides of the story. If everyone supported the same party there would be no political debate, no opposition, and no scrutiny – not very democratic!

So challenge your views and others, but do so with respect – and remember politics is for all, the more engaged we are the more we can shape the world around us.

Rachael Farrington

Hello! I founded Voting Counts back in 2014, when I was a sixth form student. I'm now studying Politics and History at University and run Voting Counts in my spare time.

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