For most people, politics is an utter turn-off. We are all exhorted to take more interest in our community and how our country is governed – and in the debates about our schools, the health service or roads. But few people actually do. Why is that, when so much is at stake? Why do we leave the future of our nation and our institutions to the few?
Partly because we feel that getting involved in politics will not make a scrap of difference. It is more likely that you will be run over on your way to the polling station than that your vote would actually make a difference. The question isn’t exactly ‘Why take the risk?’, but it certainly is ‘Why bother?’ And it is a question that increasing numbers of people ask themselves: despite all the efforts to make us vote, fewer and fewer of us do.
Perhaps we figure that, even if by some million-to-one chance our vote did make the difference in an election, the people we elect would still do pretty much the same. Like pre-revolution France and Russia, we seem to be governed by a completely separate class – not a hereditary aristocracy, but an elected one. Politicians have become full-time political professionals. Officials act like our masters rather than as our servants. Journalists trade favourable stories for information, in the kind of insider trading that would land any businessperson in jail – but not politicians or spin-doctors, it seems.
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