Some people say* voter apathy is a terrible sign of the public’s disconnect with politics. Writers claim that the diminishing turnout for elections is evidence that we, the people, have lost faith in the political establishment that only seems to service their own interests. Meanwhile, us poor, poor should-be voters feel that it’s pointless to even try and stop the eternal tide of awfulness turning this once green and pleasant land into an Islamotastic homopot of benefit-scrounging polar bears – or something.
To be uncharacteristically blunt, it’s said that there are less people bothering to vote because they feel let down by the corrupt politicians.
I’d like to offer an alternative theory.
This isn’t a particularly controversial theory and I’m unlikely to be the first person to think about it (though I can be quite visionary at times – I fancied Cheryl Tweedy when she was the still just the ‘sporty’ one and a racist). You’re unlikely to see this theory written about by any of the daily columnists, however. Mostly because of two reasons:
1) It’s boring.
2) It goes against the sleazy politician narrative.
My theory is that fewer people are voting because, in general, more people are content about the way things are. No matter whichever way you spin it, the majority of us are far, far better off than we ever were. That’s a trend that seems to continue no matter who’s in charge. While the minority may be outraged by Labour’s benefits state, the Tory’s free market ideology or Nick Clegg’s smug little head, the reality is that MOST of the British public are not writing comments on the Daily Mail website.
Instead, they’re relatively happy. But we don’t hear about that because, as Charlie Brooker pointed out, the media’s view of the public has essentially been handed over to a fringe society of emotionally broken retards.
A typical accusation is that there is no clear difference between political parties any more – that this is another maligned cause for the dreaded voter apathy and something should be done about it. But what? True, British politics has converged somewhere nearing the centre of the political spectrum (although, in my opinion it’s slowly leaning further to the left), but why is this assumed to be a bad thing? The alternative is extremism. Do we really need our politicians veering away from the tried-and-tested middle ground so it’s easier for stupid people to pick between one stupid set of ideals on one side and another stupid set of ideals on another?
While that would undoubtedly increase voter turnout, I don’t think it’s a particularly progressive path for our country.
So is voter apathy a sign of a successful democracy? Of course it depends on your perspective. If my theory’s correct, it’s certainly sign of a relatively happy populace, which must mean the government is working in the best interests of the people. On the other hand, it’s bad news for the incumbent government who will find the millions of people that have steadily thrived under their leadership staying home on voting day; watching their HDTVs; facebooking from their laptops; stuffing their faces with cheap, readily-availalble food; and playing with their kids who haven’t been raped or forced into a warzone. We really are a bunch of lucky bastards.
*To borrow a turn of phrase from the most partisan of hacks before unleashing a totally uncorroborated attack on AGW, homosexuals, pro-choicers, socialists, free-thinkers and/or coloured people