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Political influence

In the face of societal changes and political forces we often feel quite powerless. At least we live in a democracy and every three years we can vote to change the form of local or national government. Of course, our own individual vote hardly ever makes any difference. Indeed, as a somewhat independent thinker, I can hardly ever bring myself to vote for any of the major parties in a national election, except maybe from a tactical perspective. Usually, the candidates and parties I vote for don’t have any chance. I think it would be dangerous to identify too closely with any particular party or ideology.

Nevertheless, because I was a public servant for some time, I know the importance of consultations, through which individuals can influence political decisions more than by many other means. Participating in consultations is nearly a bit of a hobby for me. Most often my submission seems to be disregarded, but sometimes it is taken seriously. A while ago I submitted on the draft advice of the Climate Commission. So did 15,000 other submitters. You would not expect that anything I said would have much influence. Nevertheless, when I read the final recommendations, there was one item of advice that seemed to reflect my submission directly. It was about the cost of public transport for families and the lack of incentives for families to use public transport. I hope more people raised this topic, but I was surprised that in one aspect the report reflected my concerns nearly word for word. By the way, there is just as much if not more in the report about public transport as about electric cars, even though that is not reflected in the media coverage.

I think we are lucky that in our political system we can have some input. Yes, it is not optimal and political forces seem to roll over our concerns. At times we may despair over the direction our country or city is going, but there are ways for us to do something, even if we are often not listened to. We should take the opportunities that are offered to us, when we see the need to speak out.