Sunday 4 November 2012

The New Politics: Interchangeable Heads

Via Reason, here's a bit of fun at the expense of potential Obama voters who - it appears - don't actually like his policies one little bit.

As the interviewer points out, this isn't meant as a Romney campaign coup, and the same video could quite easily have been made embarrassing Romney supporters instead. However, there are two observations I took from it, both of relevance to us in the UK.

Firstly, it's noticeable how often the US interviewees use the word 'freedom' or a synonym. I seriously can't imagine a similar prank, filmed with UK voters, going the same way - I do believe that most Brits have been bombarded by so much propaganda and junk journalism that they've all but given up on the idea of personal responsibility and freedom of the individual. Freedom's heart is still beating across the pond, though, albeit weakly and without too much power or influence.

The second point is that our public are equally lost as to what, exactly, they are voting for as the vox pops above. With the onset of sound bite politics, 24 hour news-friendly, air-brushed political leaders, and influential professional single issue lobby groups (including government-funded sock puppets), principled positions have been ditched in favour of, well, whatever government and civil service wants to do anyway.

Politicians have become interchangeable to such an extent that it barely matters which one you vote for anymore. You will get shat on whichever rabble is eventually elected.

As Ed West recently said in an excellent article describing how "government interference ends up corrupting democracy".
The reason David Cameron’s surprise announcement on gay marriage angered so many people is not just that many Conservatives oppose change, but that it meant that yet again the three main parties were of one mind on an issue, and the public another. The isolation of the political class from the public at large has been a growing feature of our democracy in recent years, the most extreme example being immigration, where the three main parties have been wildly out of touch with public opinion for decades. 
Public opinion is diverse on gay marriage, but the political elite are uniform. In Scotland all five parliamentary parties now share the same view, while the public is split down the middle.
This correlates well with what I've mentioned before, that democracy and freedom have long since parted company.
This is the problem we face in the UK, and elsewhere, in the 21st century. Talk to any reasonable man or woman in the street and they will tell you they have no objection to smoking and non-smoking bars; that minimum alcohol pricing is a pretty lame idea; and that McDonald's and Coca-Cola are benign products over which there has been far too much fuss. 
And if you can find anyone, but anyone, in a supermarket queue who doesn't think hiding tobacco displays is truly laughable you'll be doing very well. 
Yet democracy has created these disconnects between what the public want and what over-thinking - and sometimes bullied - politicians end up promoting.
It matters not the subject. What the video above proves above all else is that the modern democratic electoral process, globally, has ceased to be anything to do with the people and is now merely a celebrity-cum-fashion-cum-beauty contest. Oh yeah, and with a few bribes thrown in which are mostly unaffordable.

We may as well keep the same MPs, but just make them wear a different mask every five years.


nisakiman said...

An excellent post which emphasises both the fact that people have no idea what their elected politicians are up to, and that those same politicians similarly have no idea, (or choose to ignore) what those who they presume to rule - forgetting that they are employees of those same people- actually want of them.

The system is broken. As I tweeted yesterday (partly, but not completely in jest), perhaps we should adopt the system used by the Coptic Christians in choosing their Pope to select our leaders; let a blindfolded child pick a name out of a hat. It certainly can't be worse than the current system.

Single Acts of Tyranny said...

Yes, I saw this one, very amusing, it also struck me as very tribal. If Romney wants to do it ~ boo, but if Barry wants to do it, hooray.

It is now clear for anyone who cares to look, that Western social democracy is broken and quite possibly broken beyond repair. The worst of this is the politicians who personally benefit from this massively don't care and have no interest in changing the system. The poor voter has no real, meaningful choice as statism is the settled position of the elite and they ain't going anywhere.

Worst of all, it's a bust system with the unfunded liabilities hammering down the tracks at us and I don't see a politician even talking about it, much less actually doing anything. The financial system looks bust and the whole thing has the air of the 1789 ancien regime to it. What follows will probably be authoritarian worse.