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Wednesday, 8 June 2016

BREMAIN, BREXIT AND THE UGLY

Democracy, that Ancient Greek invention, the reason for millions of deaths all over the world, is taken for granted, ridiculed and ignored. We're reminded we fought for it; we protest against dictatorships; we laugh at the single-choice vote in Kazakhstan or North Korea, Belarus or Russia.
But when it comes to voting, we simply don't want to know. We rely on others to support our own apathy, our laziness to engage with current political topics. The very word 'politics' turns us off.
In 1950, 84% of eligible voters did the deed; last year it was 66%, rising slightly from the lowest point of 59% in 2001. In 2015, 15 million of the registered voters did not go to the polling stations, and 4 million did not even register in the first place. EU elections' average turnout is even lower, around 34%. The EU referendum is perhaps a bigger concern to most people so I expect the turnout to be somewhere around the 50% mark. Poor.
We vote within social media, we moan, argue, debate, comment, like, poke, swipe, emoji the hell out of the millions of posts on the very same issues we're supposed to simply write a cross on a choice once every few years. Is the voting system to blame? Are we expecting too much from people? Should we engage more with politics and have more interesting politicians?
Ironically, any answer to those questions could be resolved at the ballot box. Change only comes to those who have a say.
We think it doesn't affect us, yet we give them our money to be spent as they wish. We think we have no say in the matter, yet we are vocal when we don't like what politicians do.
The EU referendum is looming upon us... It's not really, we've talked about little else in the past few months. We have been part of the EU since the 70s, it shouldn't be possible for people to be still undecided on the issue. It's not a new thing we need to join, we are in it, we have been in it, we have discussed it ad nauseam.
There was a registration deadline for new voters advertised for months, and yet at the last minute we managed to be outraged when the system crashed, effectively impeding some people to register. Of course it shouldn't happen, but technical faults on overloaded systems do happen. The problem lies on the late surge. Almost as if people were daring, treating the registration as a plunge in the high seas, a jump from the balcony into one of Ibiza hotel's swimming pools after a drinking session, "Yeah, let's do it, fuck it!".
How deplorable it is to know that such an important subject has been reduced to a war of headlines, of party in-fighting, of silly and imagined financial projections, of scaremongering and crass statements from both sides.
Blaming others is used to mask our failings. Non-voting does that. We don't want to be responsible. We are the generation of watchers. We watch on YouTube, on Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram; we observe a fracas or an accident on the road but don't do anything, just point and comment, someone will sort it out. It's the Bystander Effect: we see something happening, we should do something but don't move, just observe in the assumption that someone will surely sort it out. The more people do that, the less likely we are to intervene, so nobody does and we're then displeased or shocked by the outcome.
Media is to blame as well. The narrative is always the same because if something works, gets the clicks and the necessary viewing, it is exploited to the max. No point talking about the technicalities and the realities of leaving the EU or the positive engagement of European policies, much easier to talk about the maverick and quirky figures in both camps.
Maybe I will be proven wrong and lots of people will vote on the day. But I know a proper debate has been wanting, the vote will nevertheless be skewed by fickle arguments.
Bremain, Brexit....and the ugly? Not going to vote.

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