Voters gonna hate

Rush for the middle to blame for voter rush for the door.

A Guardian / ICM survey this week showed that voters in the UK are increasing disengaged from politics. It found 25% of them were bored by politics, and half say politicians make them angry.

It’s ineffably weird to see politicians fret over public disengagement.

They create half-baked pop-psych theories to explain it. They blame it on people themselves. They propose programmes to make people change.

Politicians never conclude that they, or their service, is not worth hiring.

They never conclude that they have chosen a little appreciated – okay, a much despised – career.

They never conclude that low votes and disengagement means they are currently irrelevant.

It’s not up to the public to like politicians enough to vote for them. It’s up to democratic politicians to be liked, and to put up with vilification that has always come with the job.

Lower engagement is a sign of good times. People have confidence in the ability of themselves, and of the commons, to make life worthwhile. The political struggles of the past have created a social order and an economy which makes political organisation unnecessary. Technology has created physical well being which gives each of us a sense of individual empowerment.

Politics is left with the realm of cultural order and values rather than actual physical and economic improvement. Only those who care about how others live their lives are passionate about this sort of politics.

A Guardian column speculated that the homogenization of political parties and dearth of issues has driven passion out of mainstream politics.

I agree: many professional era politicians and their aides seem remarkably inept at their chosen career. As a result they opt for banal positions on unremarkable issues.

Mainstream Parties have always tried to occupy a middle-ground. It’s the best way of appealing broadly enough to gain sufficient votes to govern. But professionally manned middle ground has a cynical foundation. The middle ground isn’t held to reflect popular opinion, nor to win to put significant policies into effect. It’s held just to win.

No surprises then that many voters choose not to help politicians play this game.

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