Friday, 20 February 2015

Cynicism and Broken Promises

"Sir, have you got any flame-retardant pants for your office? It's that whole liar liar pants on fire thing."
I recently watched An Idiot's Guide to Politics, presented by Jolyon Rubinstein, co-presenter of The Revolution Will Be Televised. Both programmes bring a brilliant satirical edge to political pranking, and I seriously recommend watching them. What I found most striking was how seemingly apathetic the young people interviewed were to politics, some of whom recognised Kim Kardashian, but not David Cameron. In response to the question, "What's more important than politics," one answer was, "Getting on with your life." 

But apathy and boredom definitely isn't the main factor. The main factor is that there exists a dichotomy between whichever party is in power, and whether or not life actually changes. Politicians make whatever promises they need to get elected, they then break that promise. An example of this which is definitely of importance to our future lives is Nick Clegg and his broken flagship pledge not to raise student tuition fees. That being said, however, it seems to be impossible to get into power without making exaggerated claims. Those parties who do not are considered bland and do not appeal to the masses. This means that the process of making and breaking promises in such as way that they are exaggerated enough to be popular, yet vague enough to be easily broken, has, among politicians, become an art form in itself.

Mistrust towards politics isn't helped by corruption, including phone hacking, and controversy over party backing. These scandals have highlighted the falseness of the popular complacent assumption that corruption is an issue only in other, developing countries.

Suspicion of politics is summed up in a nutshell by this quote from Russell Brand:
"I believe democracy is a pointless spectacle where we choose between two indistinguishable political parties, neither of whom represent the people, but the interests of the powerful business elites that run the world."
Brand is essentially the epitome of political cynicism. Worst of all, thousands of young people look up to him and follow suit on his refusal to choose the lesser evil (which is stupid, because one of these "evil" parties is going to win anyway, so you may as well vote to prevent the greater evil. Not voting is essentially half a vote for them).

I asked some of my friends about their view on politics. Some were disinterested and labelled the system "crap." Others didn't really understand how it worked, while some said politics was interesting, but felt like the political system had never been explained clearly enough to them - for example, one friend said she didn't know what the political spectrum was and said "I'd say I'm right, because that's my gut instinct." She then said: "maybe I'll vote for a really unpopular party so that they don't feel bad and my vote doesn't affect anyone." Another view was that none of the parties had "outreach policies to make the younger generations more interested."

To many young people, politics in the UK is little more than cynicism and broken promises, yet this belief does nothing but provoke a self-perpetuating cycle. The fundamental basis of democracies is that power lies with the public, and we need to realise that although it doesn't seem like it, we do have a voice. This voice comes to us in the form of the vote - and people have died to ensure we have access to it. By not using your vote, you lose the right to complain.


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