Thursday, October 23, 2008

I Vote for Democracy! by Anna Jones Buttimore

Democracy works! I know, I was surprised too, and quite thrilled to have made that discovery this week. Here’s how it happened:

Recycling services in our area are really quite poor. The council collects paper, cardboard, glass and green waste (grass cuttings), but most of us can never remember what is being collected which week, and what colour box or bag it is supposed to be in. And they don’t collect cans and plastic bottles. Being a responsible sort of soul, each time I visit friends in the next borough (where they do have collection facilities for such items) I take along my empties. I’m extremely popular, as you might imagine, arriving with three noisy children and four bin bags full of mouldy tins and festering milk bottles, then eating all the cheesecake and going home leaving the smelly rubbish, and occasionally a child or two, behind.

In May I actually took the time to read through the “Vote for Me” leaflets which came through my door from potential local counsellors. You know the type – community minded individuals who have served on every Parent Teacher Association from pre-school to sixth-form, planted 50 trees, scrubbed graffiti off the village hall and raised £500,000 for the local hospital before lunch. One of them was promising that, if elected, she would improve recycling collections. So I voted for her. So did everyone else, it seems, because she won. And tomorrow I can proudly put out my first pink sack containing paper, cardboard, glass, cans and plastics, all mixed up together. And soon thereafter, I trust, a gleaming yellow truck will come and take it all away to be recycled.

What this has taught me (and I know you knew this already) is that if enough people want something, and are capable of saying so, then it has a very good chance of happening. That's what democracy is about, and why it is such a good idea.

Now, even over here it's diffcult to escape the fact that you Americans have an election coming up. I have no idea who I'd vote for, were I entitled to, because I don't know what they stand for. Which one is going to ban abortion and guns, and give you a free healthcare service such as the one we Brits rejoice in? Well, he'd have my vote.

Elections here - like everything here, actually - are pretty low key. Campaigning starts only six weeks beforehand and there aren't really the big public rallies, theme tunes and excitement that I see on TV reports of the American campaigns. Politics, like religion, is really considered something of an inappropriate subject for polite conversation, so most of us do what I do. We read the leaflets, and we vote for the person promising to do what we want them to do.

And now if you'll excuse me, I have to go and look at my pink recycling sacks and reflect on my awesome power.


Jeri Gilchrist said...

I really enjoyed reading your blog, Anna. It made me pause and think about all the campaigning that has been going on here. With this years elections, I can only pray that our country falls into the hands of good leaders.

Cheri J. Crane said...

Ditto what Jeri said. =) Excellent blog, Anna. Recycling hasn't been a successful endeavor here in our neck of the woods. They're trying, though. That has to count for something.

Jennie said...

I'm perfectly happy with Salt Lake County's recycling effort. It gives me a place to toss all the campaign junk I get each day in the mail. Once again, we Americans could learn from you Brits. Our campaigns for president have been nonsensically long. Six weeks or even six months should be sufficient. All the money raised for campaigning and personal visits in this time of electronic messages could have been so much better spent. I suspect that most of us wouldn't choose the survivors of this political circus if we could do it over, shorter, and without media bias.

Nancy Campbell Allen said...

Jennie, as always, you are so wise. You've said everything I'm thinking but you put it into comprehensible words.

Anna, good luck finding someone here who will ban both abortion and guns and represent the same party. ;-)

And such a timely blog for me, this was! (I sound like Yoda). Just this week I saw a notice in my water bill that said Ogden is now proudly recycling all materials with the recycling logo, not just the plastics with #s 1 and 2. Still don't have the facilities available for glass, however, and I'd love that. I hate throwing away glass. Just bothers me.

Michele Ashman Bell said...

Anna, I was interested in learning about the political process in Great Britain. I wonder if all the money our candidates spend on their campaigns could be put to better use???