I should admit, up front, that I’m not one to get emotional about election results. After waking on Friday the 8th to news that my chosen party had received a kicking of Germany vs. Brazil proportions, the survivors just about able to fit into the same lift at HQ, I couldn’t muster much more than a “That’s a shame”. My response to the victory of the Conservatives, somehow both the most popular and the least liked major party on offer, was almost identical.
Maybe this is because I never really felt an adverse effect from any specific Coalition policy. But I’m convinced, as I have been since my teens, of two things: it’s never going to be as good as the winners say, and it’s never going to be as bad as the losers say. And some of my fellow losers are two furious tweets from declaring the apocalypse; a Randian hellscape where the impoverished are ground up and served as nutritional paste to slightly better-off (but still poor) zero-hour contract workers, where the ghost of Nigel Farage returns to terrify us into constructing a fifteen-meter wall around the coast out of barbed wire and unsustainable plastics.
Predictions of political doom are, of course, nothing new, and they definitely aren’t specific to any political persuasion. If anything, though, this just makes me wonder why anyone keeps bothering with them. Tony Blair didn’t ruin the country. Gordon Brown didn’t ruin the country. David Cameron didn’t ruin the country, and he most likely won’t over the next five years either. While we’re at it, Ed Miliband probably wouldn’t have ruined the country, and Nick Clegg wouldn’t have stood off to the side saying “Maybe you should ruin the country”. It’s just not in a political party’s interests to fuck everything up.
In short, while there’s nothing wrong with preparing for the worst, it wouldn’t hurt to recalibrate just what constitutes “the worst”. At least then, when the next election rolls around, we can argue politics on the basis of realistic costs and opportunities, not on who’s the most likely avoid bringing about socioeconomic Ragnarok.
Or, even better, we – the twentysomethings, the Facebookers, the Twitterers – can actually go out and vote more. Estimates put the 18-24 turnout at a pitiful 59%, notably lower than the already-slightly-rubbish national rate of 66%. Maybe the energy spent screaming into the void and jabbing fingers at politicians who haven’t even enacted their policies yet would be better spent convincing our non-voting to friends to take part in the democratic process. That, more than any furious status update, might actually help make a positive difference.