There's a part of me that has sympathy for politicians, after all in what other walk of life do you have to lay out your stall every few years in order to hold on to your job; but having said that the rewards for the successful are pretty enticing. For the next few weeks we will be bombarded with media coverage of the candidates and the issues. Some TV faces will undoubtedly turn up at our doors urging us to support their candidate with our number 1, and the key issues of housing and health care will almost certainly be centre stage, each party claiming to have the magic solution that we all long for.
Personally I used to vote along party lines but in recent years I am more inclined to go for individuals who can inspire confidence and have a track record of service to the community, and whose values in some sense echo my own, although this has become increasingly difficult as 'groupthink' pressures have taken over and the primacy of the individual conscience been superseded. The days of large majorities for any party seem to have all but disappeared all over Europe, with the notable exception of our near neighbour Britain. I suspect that the particular circumstances surrounding Brexit account in large part for that.
We will all make our individual minds up about the candidates we will support, but what matters is that we turn out and vote, whoever our preference. Democracy functions best with a full participation at every stage of the process. In Australia, a failure to vote incurs a fine, and while that might seem extreme it does perhaps incentivise a greater turnout. It doesn't require a great deal of effort to shuffle along to the polling station to exercise our franchise, and there are countries of the world whose populations would give their eye teeth for such a right and privilege. So let's make our Lucan turnout a significant one for February 8th.
The choice of a Saturday for polling makes eminent sense and obviates the need for school closures with all the attendant childcare problems for parents, not to mention the tallymen and women needing to take time off work.
I look forward to some of the debate and to hearing what creative solutions our politicians will propose, and of course if the debate is mere rhetoric there's always the remote control or the off switch.
I will miss Marian Finnucane's dulcet tones on our airwaves in the run up to the Election, she had a wonderful way of asking the difficult questions in the nicest of ways and was always fair. May she rest in peace.
St. Mary's Lucan