13 Nov 2016

Brexit, Trump, and the danger of political apathy.


the problem with not caring about politics
Apathy will kill us, one day. Sorry to be so pessimistic, but in the state things are now, it's hard to dissect each individual facet and locate a silver lining. How have we ended up in a position where the right-wing parties are gaining followers fast, where people are so nostalgic for the 'better past' that they're blinkered to a more global future? 

Well, I know how.

You get someone saying the things people think out loud.

I know I live in a bubble, and the people reading this are most likely going to be in the same circles as I am, reading the same articles and forming the same, or near-same points of view. In that sense, I've been wondering whether there's any point to me even posting this, since those who don't share my ideologies probably won't go clicking on the slightly-political sounding post of the left-leaning, and those who do, you already know this. You know the feeling, you understand where I'm coming from.

But in that same sense, if I don't post... if I don't use this space to voice my opinions, if I don't use the internet to educate myself, then I waste the money I spend on hosting and domains and the work I've put into this blog. I waste the nine thousand pounds a year that I spent on university, where my lecturers emphasised the importance of reading and learning and absorbing what's going on and trying to figure it all out in a rational and measured way. If I don't post then I fall into the bracket of apathy that's landed us in this situation in the first place. I also let down the people who are now so scared of their future because if I don't say 'no I don't agree with this', statistics tell them that I do.

I've already written about Brexit, and how we're woefully uneducated in politics in the UK. How a horrifically divisive campaign, the real project fear, stirred sentiment that shunned the act of globalisation. I understand how certain areas of the UK have been left behind because of government funding allocations, and reallocations, ridiculous cuts and little to no investment. But that is the fault of our government. It's the fault of countless governments ineffective policies and not the primary fault of the EU and the EEC, which so many people seemed to believe. Areas that voted solidly Leave (Wales I'm looking at you) were areas that received so much EU funding to help boost their individual economies, that when you look at what is going to happen come the start of 2017 'shooting yourself in the foot' comes to mind. A referendum to leave the EU is not the time to say you hate your current government. That's what the general elections are for.

You know, the elections where we get shit turnouts.

Akin to the US Presidential elections, where we get Trump as the result.

And before you say HRC got more votes in total, it's the Electoral College and the whole fecking system that's at fault, I don't dispute that. HRC did get more votes from the American population.

But she 'got more votes'  from 57.6% (estimated) of the eligible voting population.

That's a whopping 42.4% (estimate) that didn't vote.

42.4% of the USA went 'you know what, nah this doesn't affect me'.

That's almost double the 27.8% of the British eligible electorate that didn't cast a vote for brexit.

the problem with not caring about politics
the world will keep going, but for some the outlook is pretty bleak right now. 

But whether it's nearly half of the population or over a quarter, we have this ridiculous sense of political apathy in the world. We have people waxing lyrical that the game is broken, that politics is disgusting and the prepared candidates are an example of everything that is wrong with the system, but it seems that the immediate reaction we have to that is 'LOL NOPE' and leave, run away from the issue instead of trying to solve it. Or move the responsibility to someone else, somewhere else. There's a culture that is parroting misinformation instead of taking the time to become informed. There is a culture that is less about learning, and the ridiculous notion that even talking about politics is something bad.

As in, I've seen people ask on social media why anyone who isn't American (or living in America) is so concerned about the US elections. I've had people tell myself and others to shut up and stop talking. Whenever politics is mentioned there's the group that sticks its collective head in the sand so violently that the shockwaves jolt us all a little bit.

And we maintain this apathy. Either the 'I don't care' or the 'well people are going to tell me to shut up' or even 'I don't know enough so I'll just stay quiet'.


Political apathy will kill us, eventually. And I don't really say this to be pessimistic, I say this because maybe, just maybe, it might start the realisation that this whole thing is actually pretty serious. Despite the fact I could never, ever vote for Trump - or any politician on my own soil that was even slightly similar - I can understand the distaste towards Clinton and what she represented to many. But to not bother to vote in general because of that distaste, is saying that Trump's ok.

And in the British parallel, not voting for one outcome or the other, means you're fine with the rhetoric that was trotted out.

It's not hard to read unbiased sources or political analysts to try and make sense of what is going on in the world. Talking about politics shows that you care. It's divisive, yes, and generally is best to come at from a place of information, but showing an interest is better than sticking your head in the sand.

If you 'don't care' about politics, then why not? Politics literally decides your life. Economic policy, educational policy, foreign policy, the actual glue that stops us being at war with one another, that affects our rights as a workforce, affects our children in how they learn about the world. Political apathy is basically sticking two fingers up at that in 'so what?'. Bonus points for complaining about the outcome afterwards.


You don't have to be demonstratively engaged, attending all the rallies or becoming a card carrying member of a particular political group. But by reading up, staying informed, and at least having a finger on the pulse of politics means that as a society we can grow and learn from the absolute travesties of the worlds' political past.


And for what it's worth, my opinion on Trump is this:  I'm saddened that people looked at Clinton and went 'you are everything wrong with the current political system' then looked at Trump and decided that despite him also being a hob-nobbing elite with questionable business/tax practices, his awful attitude, comments, and actions towards women and minority groups, that that was 'the voice of change'. I can't excuse what he's said, the groups he's united and basically ratified the actions of. If the electoral college decide in December that this is the Thing That Is Happening, then there we go. Though in uniting a divided country I think he'll be a lot more moderate than the rhetoric of his campaign. My main concern is the fact that the US now has a Republican president-elect, a Republican Senate and a Republican Congress - also Mike Pence - and how that will affect minority groups (and women) in America, as well as foreign policy.


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5 comments

  1. Really great post, so interesting to read a non media post x

    Tiffany Tales | Beauty & Lifestyle

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  2. This post pretty much nails my feelings (as an American) about our latest act of incredible stupidity. It makes me frightened that so many of my compatriots voted for him *because* he was willing to spew white-nationalist bile. There's not much more to say when you find out that enough people in your country are totally cool with an unqualified idiot with fascist leanings who spews hate speech :(. I've been trying to pull together a post-election blog post but it honestly terrifies me too much to concentrate.

    Emily
    emilyhallock.blogspot.com

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  3. Great post... part of me wonders how much of what Trump said was what he thought was the 'truth' and how much was just a big publicity stunt.

    http://ohduckydarling.com

    http://ohduckydarling.com

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  4. This was such a lovely post to read. I love how you put your thoughts into words and I really appreciated that it came from someone who is obviously educated on the subject and knows that it's important to raise awareness when it comes to politics, voting and taking part in building our nations' future. It's true, we probably have the exact same political views in our closest circles, but that doesn't mean we should stop talking about it! Talking about it makes it relevant, I think, it makes it important and keeps the conversation going, which is exactly what young people need to do, in my opinion.

    x

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  5. I love your post but sadly as a black woman born in raised in the south in a former slave state I must say minorities in this country have been trying to tell the rest of the world for years just how racist america is. Many of the people in my state and the surrounding states voted for trump and openly admit they agree with him. Its frustrating it took this election for the rest of the world to see how big of an issue that still is here. Women and minorities here, especially in the south are not treated equally... Its almost like living in the past sometimes. America is really not that old we haven't progressed as much as we would have liked to admit and our system isn't set up to allow everyone equal access to voting etc. For example many black people couldn't vote because a high statistic of them are arrested here including my mom who is a felon. Not that we commit crime more but we are more likely to get arrested (racial profiling) we have a long way to go and I'm terrified.

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