Sunday, August 23, 2009

Elections and other Matters.

Doing my duty t’other day and casting my vote I spoke with a local councillor who suggested that I write an article on elections. My immediate thought was, -- boring, but I didn’t say so to him as I had no wish to cause offence. However, on giving the matter some thought I says to meself why not, for these people who run for election deserve a mention. Like travelling salesmen they hike from door to door giving spiel and spoof selling a product to a fickle public. If yer man or woman is running for high office they get the use of the airways to sell themselves, but this method has it’s disadvantages, for no matter how well you may speak on TV if the fickle public don’t like the look of you you’re wasting your breath. Why your looks should have an influence on your abilities beats me, but it is so, especially among the female voter. I’ll get a rap on the knuckles for saying so from Herself and probably every other female of my acquaintance but I still maintain that it is so! If you can’t make it on TV there is always the election poster. Hanging from every wall and pole available it’s another gimmick to keep the public aware of your presence. Sometimes they hang there long after the election is over, but a better effort is made nowadays to have them removed. Going from door to door is another hazardous occupation. If the householder is of like mind as yourself then that’s fine, but be prepared for a tongue lashing if the opposite is the case. It’s not that the householder has anything against you personally; its who you represent is the problem. They’ve built up a head of steam since the last election and all their woes and grievances come tumbling out when they get a listening ear. With burning ears the only option is to make a hasty but diplomatic exit. Come the big day and the aspiring politician is flat out. Going from polling station to polling station doing a quick check here a quick check there; a hand and back slap to those you know and those you don’t know, especially those you don’t know! The ‘floating voter’ or the ‘don’t knows’ are always a concern for the aspiring politician, for come the counting of votes the floating vote can cause unexpected results; upsetting the apple cart so to speak. Poaching on fellow candidates territory is not unknown either! But the biggest worry of all is the re - jigging of boundary lines by strategists in the Dept of the Environment. These lines are changed because of shifts in the population; least that’s what we’re told, but it seems to be done in a very arbitrary fashion or wherever the ruler falls on the map. This change of boundary puts the hard working would be councillor into ‘no man’s land’. Knocking on doors of complete strangers explaining who you are and what you’re about is no easy task. We Irish are still a parochial people and putting your trust and vote to someone not well known to you can put the candidate into the ‘don’t know’ or ‘floating voter’ category. It was Tip O’Neill that famous American politician who made the profound statement. ‘All politics is local’!
And how does the aspiring politician either local or national go about engaging the interest of the youth? That’s a tough call. On June 3rd Alison Healy had an interesting article in the Irish Times about the youth vote. “Election hopefuls fail to impress the young” was the impression she came away with, having done a small survey of people aged between 18 and 25. Meanwhile the National Youth Council has proposed lowering the voting age to 16! Make sense of that if you can. And yet we see on TV t’other night two young folk standing for election and completing their Leaving Cert at the same time, so hope springs eternal.
As the man said, ‘its all over bar the shoutin’ and we can settle down to normality. Well almost, we Irish love to ‘argue the toss’ and we have the post mortem to discuss. The present shower in power got hammered, and have been asked to do the honourable thing and resign. Not a chance. Margaret Thatcher’s clarion call, Out, Out, Out, has fallen on deaf ears Brazen as brass Biffo and a couple of his spoke persons appear on the Box and radio telling us all as to how they are going to clear up the financial mess we are in. Did the interviewer not think to ask them who created the mess in the first place? Basking in the arms of developers, builders and bankers, since elected, nobody shouted STOP. Now with the country up shit creek it’s a bit late in the day to be putting Plan B, if they have one, into action. The Cowen Command that replaced King Bertie hasn’t made a whit of difference. He insists that he has the voters mandate to stay in office. Have I read the recent election results wrong? One of us is living in Cloud Coo-coo land.
Getting back to where I started elections do give us a choice. The outcome may not always be to ones liking but that’s democracy for you. One can grouse and bitch about the result, but you won’t be picked up and thrown into jail, or worse! As Winston Churchill once said; “Democracy is a damn bad form of government until you try something else” Bear that in mind when the party of your choice does not make the grade at the next election!! Yrs Jeffers.

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