Political laziness and insouciance threaten more than popular disaffection with the process, but the very existence of the franchise itself, as politicians’ bad behaviour rubs off on their constituents.
There are many reasons people grow disaffected with politics. And I’m lucky enough to have been given a new aspect into this, as our teenage twins participated in their first ballot last month in the local and European elections. I was firstly very pleased neither of them sought my guidance on which way to vote, that both were ready willing and able to cross their own boxes – and indeed even to bother voting at all.
And secondly, I was impressed with spontaneous comments both made afterwards – though they were actually connected.
Twin #1 told me on election day itself, how glad I should be I no longer read So-and-So’s online feeds. “I know he used to wind you up with some of his comments in the past, but today’s is a real doozy.”
Later, this person’s digital doodling came up in conversation with twin#2 who mused, “In this age of digital communications where it’s so easy to do your own authoritative research, there really is no excuse for ignorance.”
I had to rein in a sense of totally unconditional joy when – by overhearing subsequent conversations – it emerged that neither had necessarily followed Daddy’s own right-of-centre convictions. But once again, to my mind the fact that they exercised their own judgement instead of falling back on the intellect-lite tribal political instinct of previous generations is by far the most important thing.
It occurred to me then that neither had yet had the chance top become disaffected with the political class and its unedifying default mode of traditional parliamentary posturing, political step-and-counterpoint, rhetorical cliché, obfuscation and mealy-mouthed policy-delivery in media interviews, and all the other awful traits that define today’s political class.
In this age of digital communications…there really is no excuse for ignorance
It occurred to me too that if neither the proscribed mannerisms of politicians, nor the intellectual vigour of the emerging new generation of voters change in the near future, the cycle of devaluation of the former and disengagement of the latter is doomed to repeat itself.
Coupled with the prevailing trend of people to ignore political voting entirely, one wonders how long can it be before the entire process becomes consigned to history. Could it really happen? And of so, how quickly would the vacuum (that nature abhors, don’t forget) be filled, and by whom or what?
If you’re in any way curious, let’s take a long, hard look at the EU. This is an organization that not only thrives on electoral disengagement and lack of scrutiny, it has achieved a status that is theoretically impossible in terms of natural evolution: specifically it approaches supreme power at the top of the chain but with virtually no profile or presence at all. In nature, one becomes the apex predator via apex-predator-behaviour… predating a lot, roaring loudly about it and chest-beating wherever possible. But the empowerment of the EU Supercrat has come about almost entirely by stealth and noteworthy indifference by the rest of the food chain. And it sits there now – almost imperceptible in the corporeal sense, but sledgehammer-obvious in its reach and invisible, unaccountable influence.
It’s a set piece that has achieved near-perfect evolution. All it requires to feed on is that very popular disengagement mentioned earlier. And it’s brought about by apathy, lack of intellectual challenge or the despair of impotence.
As with all creatures at the apex it has no natural predators. But in nature it’s because nothing overly fancies its chances in a stand-up fight. In this political sphere, it’s because nobody can see it.