This is a piece I wrote in 2010 while contemplating democracy and the ‘populist’ coup in Egypt. I finished it around the time of the 2010 General Election in UK. In writing it, I contemplated, among other things, what politics is/should be and how it has come to be narrowed down to mean divisive decisions to choose who controls a nation-state. The choice is between 2 or more ‘not as dissimilar as they like to appear’ political parties. If they are so similar, then maybe the vote has to be about something else. [See title for clues]
Funnily enough I started work on this piece before scheduling of general elections by the incumbent government in the UK. Due to my general lackadaisical nature and intrinsic laziness, I have been superseded by events and forced to change the tenor of the piece. In addition to this I would like to write it before the Second Coming so my efforts in piecing my disjointed ideas together would not be made completely redundant by the inevitable passage of time.
Even though we mostly profess to hate politics and the motley crew who administer and gain from its practice, we are ultimately fascinated by it and always drawn into an illicit relationship with it by the fact that we the people are increasingly relied upon to legitimise politicians by voting for them. In days gone by (the halcyon glory days before the openness of the media and new media ), politicians relied on manifestos to gain our votes. But we know they are lying, in fact for a politician to tell the truth is out of character. It is rather like a disreputable and irresponsible young man trying to attract the attentions of a young lady. He thinks, if he is charismatic and persistent enough, he will eventually succeed in his suit despite the fact that all available evidence points to the fact that he is an unmentionable.
So entered charisma into politics. What this means to politics is that if you can say nothing at all in the most appealing way possible you may most likely win an election. (e.g. Obama, ‘yes we can’ do what?) JFK and Churchill are two other examples of politicians who relied more on “sweet mouth” to get that coveted price.
Now the currency has moved to image, Gordon Brown’s ability to lose the election rests as much on his leadership ability as on his extremely unnatural and unfortunate smile. Cameron’s claim to fame is being the slightly non-human and inexplicably youthful looking leader of a party which has a majority of its members in upper age brackets. Nothing in human understanding can explain Clegg’s inordinate rise to fame (though I would suggest you investigate any possible visit to transcontinental jazz men.) Nevertheless none of these really affects the ability of a candidate to carry out the job which they enthusiastically and without hesitation or compunction encourage the people to choose them for. Whether or not they are suited for the job does not explain why in the Anglophone West a younger man is more likely to win against an older man in an election – or a job interview for that matter. [See also women generally and specifically women of colour]
Air brushing photos to remove wrinkles and reduce general circumference of candidates have also been introduced. It’s a wonder that one is expected to vote based on the physical fitness of a candidate or his/her good skin. I wouldn’t mind the name of their beautician though.
So what is the point of my ramblings? A vote is a precious thing. This is the essence of a vote, in each voter’s hand lies the fate of the universe, we should refused to be swayed by sweet words or handsome mendacious candidates. If you live in a country where the army would not stop you from voting, or the polling materials be stolen just before the election and materialise fully used (including your own vote for your mortal enemy) at the end of the election, vote and vote wisely. That is a worthwhile chance to make a difference.