“Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not…government officials, but the voters of this country”.
Just weeks from the Federal Election, we cannot help but feel the pressure of deciding the future direction of our great nation, but also those who will steward our society toward a healthier, more equitable and prosperous place. Very often, it is also about now, that we begin to oscillate between being drained by the relentless political rhetoric and feeling impassioned by the crucial nature of the issues which drive us.
Many things have not changed in the last three years.
We continue to suffer from short-termist politics. Meaningful action on Climate-Change continues to elude us. Marginal tax-reductions are again prioritised above adequate funding for education and health-care - backbones of a prosperous society. All sides carry on feeding us misinformation, distracting us from the rising levels of social inequality. Chronic disease and childhood-obesity continue to burden - as politicians falsely blame it on poor-parenting or lazy choices. Campaigns are still dominated by fear and empty political rhetoric.
Democracy in 2013.
But some things have changed these last three years.
Facebook, established in 2004, had 1.1 billion users by March this year. In 2012, Twitter hit 500 million users with many billions of Tweets weekly. The World Bank established a blog in 2011, providing a voice between the public and leaders such as President Jim Kim. The Conversation was established to provide an independent voice in a heavily politicised media landscape and The Global Health Gateway grew as a platform for engaging young professionals in global social and political issues.
With the emergence of Social Media, democracy has been handed back to the people - arguably, more than ever before. Today, democracy is not just about ticking a box on election day. With these technologies, we can get involved in the debate - even shape the debate - from our lounge-chairs or smart-phones. Social Media hands the democratic revolution that was newspapers, back to the masses. To us. For a long time we were passive feeders on pre-determined and partially-digested political messaging. Now we have the chance to grow that messaging ourselves!
Unhappy with the current rhetoric? Let people know through Facebook. Have a better idea for a future Australia? Blog about it! Disagree with a policy decision? Tweet the pollie and let them know!
Our New Voice.
Social Media provides us with entirely different opportunities to be active in this election and I urge everyone to take full advantage!
Don’t wait until the decisions are made, get involved in a way that has never been possible before. We no-longer have to rely solely on the media; or have a journalism degree to communicate our visions; or print leaflets to show our support, our anger or our ideological imperatives. Twitter, Facebook, Blogging, Instagram. These are the political tools of the 21st Century. Everyone has a voice, and social media gives us all the opportunity to share it.
A wise man once said “I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.”
In these last weeks, let’s bring them to each other!
See you in the Twittersphere…