Political activism and publicly supporting a party that speaks to you should not be a shameful thing but rather a normal part of being a citizen, Margot Roose writes.
Why did you join a party? Why are you a candidate? Why do you speak up in the press? These types of why-questions are heard by everyone joining a party as soon as the metaphorical ink on their e-signature dries.
For many, politics is dirty, frightening and something that dirties up your hands and closes many doors as soon as it is touched. Yet, this disgraceful group holds power. Power capable of directing the lives of our state and people.
People try their hardest to remain neutral. No-no, they do not participate in politics. They do not belong to any party, do not support any politician or party and do not publicly announce who they are rooting for. They limit themselves to voting every four years, thinking that is enough. And it is, as long as things go the way you hope for in the bigger picture.
The problem is created when as you wake up in an Estonia where you no longer want to live. And it hits you that you can only do something to change things in about three years' time. Until then, you can express your opinion, donate to NGOs, support social movements and organize concerts. Or protest in front of the parliament building every week by sacrificing your lunch break. Nothing great comes of that and decisions are still made by the one hundred and one people on Toompea.
You do not like this situation. You rant to your colleagues, with your friends in the sauna and to your foreign acquaintances who sympathize with recent developments in your country. You battle with associations to oppose some particularly silly laws that stand in the way of your business. You read news about an expat refusing to accept an award and scratch your head when your foreign workers disappear one by one.
You feel there is a problem and know that the problem can only be solved by people in the Riigikogu roster. And yet you still tell yourself that you are not involved in politics. You would rather anonymously give money to a zephyr cake campaign or support groups advocating for the "no" answer to a referendum question.
Politics is a marketplace, with votes, Riigikogu seats and using them to lead Estonia toward particular goals and views the currency. The market has parties that own a certain piece of the pie. As it is in the business world, you have to fight for your market share, offering your voters a suitable program and its implementation.
Maintaining and growing the market share of a political force they hold dear costs citizens money, time, energy or their name and network of contacts. This can be done timidly and half-ashamed or it can be done boldly in front of everybody.
Dear compatriots, please come out of the closet! Take the time to think of the Estonia you would want and what party does your vision line up best with. Next, do something to increase the market share of that group. Political activism and supporting a party that speaks to you should not be a shameful thing but rather a normal part of being a citizen. If you have energy left over, you can also organize concerts and cake campaigns.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste