It strikes me that the main threat to Democracy might be Democracy itself.
Imagine if you will a nightmare scenario where a bunch of manipulative, lying politicians with the collusion of a media hooked on the delicious uncertainty of false equivalence – “Creationism v Evolution, which is right? Join us after this break where we talk to two ‘experts’ for a 50/50 pro/con debate!” – trick millions of people into voting for something which promises easy solutions to complex problems.
Oh, wait, we just had that didn’t we? I’m sure I saw people I don’t care about talking about having watched it on Gogglebox.
Yes, you were tricked. You know you were, you Leftovers. You are just too ashamed to admit that you were taken in by a bunch of ruthless liars led by two journalists – journalists, I mean, really? – and a bloke who thinks smoking doesn’t cause cancer.
You bought a shonky second-hand cut-and-shut pile of crap featuring proven lies, the relentless denial of expert commentary or indeed the validity of expertise itself, absurd equivalences-which-weren’t, planet-busting levels of sophistry and promises so fake they had to be quickly walked back within hours of the vote (eg the “£350m for the NHS” Bus Of Lies, over which the Crown Prosecution Service is currently pondering whether it’s worth pressing criminal charges (hint: they won’t)) and now we’re all driving the lemon. Gee thanks. That’s the last time I give you the PIN number on my card.
Whoever wins the US presidential election – and at the time of writing we were still a day or so away from knowing the result – a proven liar, multiple-bankrupt, racist, misogynist bully who boasts about sexual assault will have managed to get over 40% of voters to turn out for him. 40%+ of a supposedly-educated, supposedly-developed country.
Now, a significant proportion of Trump supporters, are, well, let’s say not exactly the country’s brightest. Not that I think a college education should be a prerequisite for voting. However, those members of the ‘LGBT for Trump’ group, or the woman pictured proudly wearing her ‘Trump can grab ME by the pussy!!’ t-shirt at a rally would, I fear, have their voting licence suspended in the Kingdom of Brandonia, the world’s first truly benign despotic nation (more details to follow…).
But this is far from confined to the US. BBC Radio 4 interviewed a Leave voter in Barnsley the other morning who was surprised at the recent High Court decision on Article 50 because he thought we had already left the EU, the moment the result was announced. Yeah, sure we did. Can I sell you a car, mate? It may look like a lemon…
Such rabid lunacy was only the tip of a whole steaming assberg of “WTF???” which ripped open the side of the SS United Kingdom on its idiotic voyage across the Referendic Ocean, when Captain David Cameron was overcome by hubris and thought he could pilot it between the Swivel-Eyed Rocks of Illusory Control and the Shoals of Complete Indifference. Oops. Times 50.
But this is the problem with democracy. It is no longer fit-for-purpose. The people cannot be trusted. Boaty McBoatface – the name for the new British Antarctic exploration vessel chosen by overwhelming public assent by those people who could be arsed to vote (sound familiar?) – was, happily, overruled by spoilsport elitists in favour of the RRS Sir David Attenborough, with the “fun” name relegated to christening the thing’s secondary lobster-pot or something. And that’s the last time they’ll ever have an online public vote for that kind of thing, believe me. They. The elite, that is. Spoilsports. What do they know?
Boaty McBoatface proves that in a world where the Photoshopping – or otherwise – of Kim Kardashian’s bottom of more general fascination than, oh, I don’t know, the Syrian refugee crisis, that the delicious elixir of Democracy is too, too potent for idiots, who will just abuse it.
Like cannabis, Ecstasy or Spice, Democracy should be banned until we have had time to take a better look at the data. And then ban it.
In our new Post-Facts world of Pretend Equivalence, Creationism is the same as Evolution as long as two commentators can go head to head for five minutes on 24 hour Infotainment, er 24 hour News while we wait for end-to-end coverage of Whitney Houston’s funeral. On Planet P.E., the evidence for Climate Change is the same as Not Believing Experts On Climate Change.
And the endless research, data and expert opinion saying the UK’s best bet was – notwithstanding all its faults – to Remain in the EU became the same as a big fat lie on a big fat bus told by a big fat elitist millionaire buffoon standing in front of it, lying.
On Planet P.E., where the dangerous drug Democracy is running rampage, the environmental scientist gets the same vote on Climate Change as the man who needs to wear a Bacofoil balaclava and hide under the kitchen sink; the highly-trained health & safety officer gets the same vote on transport matters as my sister’s ex-boyfriend, who refused to dim his headlights to avoid dazzling oncoming traffic “because the beams cancel each other out”; and the human rights barrister with 25 years’ experience saving innocents from Death Row gets the same vote on criminal justice reform as the Rotherham taxi-driver who thought voting Leave would “get rid of all the Muslims.” (hint: it won’t, never would and couldn’t possibly in any way, shape or form you utterly thick racist knobhead).
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Democracy in principle, used safely by responsible people, but in our modern, inter-connected, impossibly complex world it’s rather like being a passenger in a car driving towards a cliff when you are pretty convinced the driver a) may not know how to drive, b) may be drunk or high or both, or c) may have a death wish. Or all three. No wonder the Chinese want nothing to do with it.
Like Michael Gove, I like Dungeons & Dragons. Unlike Michael Gove, I rather like experts being in charge of things experts should be in charge of, without being gainsaid by people who not only aren’t experts, but believe they are.
Question is, who’s really more stupid? People who are thicker than a whale omelette (not their fault, generally), or the people who let them at the wheel of the motor when they’re cliff-adjacent? The people who voted Brexit, or the people who let that happen in the first place?
Answers on a postcard to Despairing Elitist Remoaner, Told-You-So, Cliffbottom, Little England.