Lots of things grab attention in election campaigns. Personalities, polls, Freudian slips, clumsy trips, moments of unwise honesty, eight foot tall limestone press releases, you know the kind of thing.
But we hardly ever hear about the most important element of democracy: the volunteers. Hundreds of thousands of them, drawn from every part of the country, from every background, ethnicity and profession, and from every party, without whom our politics would not just cease to function, it would cease to exist.
Every single one of them has spent countless hours and expended huge effort over the last few weeks slogging to engage people in the election, from the biggest city to the most remote farm house. They do so in sunshine or rain, and regardless of the silence or even abuse they might receive in return. They’re out there working their socks off right now.
They don’t get paid, they don’t stand to gain power and they only rarely receive any thanks for their labours. They do what they do because they believe in the power of ideas and the power of the vote – and because they want to make their country better.
They may disagree vehemently on what a better country would look like, or how it might be achieved. But they mutually agree to fight it out peacefully at the ballot box – an all-too-rare settlement which countless other nations around the world can only begin to imagine.
So here’s a cheer for the volunteers – of all sides – without whom democracy would be impossible. We wish there were more of them, and we will continue to work to swell their ranks. Without them the world would be a much worse place. To all of you, thank you.