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Friday, 19 September 2014

Should The Government Slaughter All First Born Sons? Yes □ No □


Last night CNN sensationally mistyped a number 4 as a number 5. Social media went wild, the markets panicked, and David Cameron hastily committed to a messy shake up of the entire British constitution, with neither time, nor any idea of how, to achieve it. CNN later corrected their mistake, and Alex Salmond, who clearly missed the day at shameless political hack school where they teach you about expectation management, had to resign.

The only thing everyone seems to agree on is that the turnout was great. 84% of Scots had nothing better to do yesterday. Even the kids got involved, 16 and 17 years olds voted with 'impressive maturity'. Observers noted a total lack of skateboarding in the polling booth or backchat to the returning officer, and hardly had to clean up any discarded loom bands afterwards. What hoi polloi really need, say the usual suspects, is a vote on issues that matter.

Nobody seems to have developed this into a whole idea, since following your own train of thoughts to the end is difficult, but what are the implications for democracy? Since high turnout is a self evident good thing, for reasons we shouldn't question, perhaps this is exactly what we need more of. An annual stream of massive, simple, binary questions posed to the electorate to keep them at the appropriate level of political fervour.

Today was the day of the government's referendum on renaming all towns 'Geoff'. Turnout was an all time high of 92%, though some voters chose a principled abstention, claiming there were extremists on both sides and urging all parties to get around the negotiating table and find a middle way.

The real heroes in all of this are the non voters. Facing a question so big and stupid even Russell Brand couldn't resist picking a team, they nobly kept to their guns. If democracy is a gigantic stab at wisdom of the crowds, they realised they have no wisdom to contribute, and didn't add noise into the system for the cheap thrill of 'doing your civic duty'. 16% of the Scottish electorate were selfless enough to realise they know nothing about how to solve major political problems, and to stick to having stupid opinions about their own lives rather than inflict them on everyone else.