Politics is not a gameshow

Donald Trump
istock_Bastiaan Slabbers
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Democracy could soon be in crisis in both Britain and America as a result of a worrying new trend.

Before too long, we might decide that the good old Soviet and Chinese political models of dictatorship without election are as good or as bad as our version in which a large enough percentage of the population votes as a joke to "rig" any serious election, referendum or other vote.

After the British referendum on whether or not to leave Europe and the US Presidential election result, it is now clear that television has changed attitudes towards voting.

A century ago when women were desperate to secure the right to vote, they did not care about who made the best cake, danced stupidly in sequins or should be allowed to escape from torture in the jungle or a camera-festooned house.

Instead, they believe that democracy was sacred and gave up their lives for it.

While nobody yet has full data to prove the point, it seems that in both Britain and America, where elections or referenda are close, a large constituency who have learned all that they know about the process through TV game shows treat the whole thing as a bit of a laugh.

I have no doubt that many people honestly believed that Britain would benefit by leaving Europe. Time will tell as to whether they are correct or not. However, I have no doubt that had they been pitted against those who believe that Britain should stay in Europe, we would not be going through the present currency crisis. We might also have missed out on an economic boom 5 to 10 years away. You pays your money and you takes your choice.

In the same way, with Donald Trump's success in the voting booths of America once again the gameshow brigade will almost certainly have tipped the balance, with a little help from the FBI.

This is absolutely terrifying. Whether you believe in Donald Trump and Brexit or not, at some point in the future people will lose lives or at least their livelihoods as a direct consequence of a vote that has been taken lightly.

What will it take to redress the balance? Probably only a disaster of that kind, since society now seems to have reached a level of immaturity rarely seen in the past where not liking a blonde nobody's fake breasts or homosexuality has become more important than intellectual rigour, political policies or just plain common sense.

In the meantime, if the Lib Dems want to get back to a position of strength, they could do worse than recruit the winners of The Great British Bake Off, Strictly Come Dancing and Big Brother plus a couple of top Premier League footballers to lead the party ahead of the next election. With that kind of firepower, they could be looking at a landslide.

About Philip Fisher

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By jimeth
09th Nov 2016 11:55

Sad but true.

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By KateR
09th Nov 2016 13:26

...and while everyone is bedazzled by the spectacle things like benefit cuts and MTD, which will have serious financial consequences for our low earners and small businesses, will slip through un-noticed. The government will be having a field day.

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09th Nov 2016 20:18

We really need to rethink this whole democracy thing, that's two decisions it's got wrong in a row.

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to thesis_carl
10th Nov 2016 13:33

thesis_carl wrote:

We really need to rethink this whole democracy thing, that's two decisions it's got wrong in a row.

Why were the decisions wrong?

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to Kent accountant
10th Nov 2016 16:17

Well obviously because we allowed too many 'thick' people a vote - I'm sorry, didn't you read what Phil said? Or indeed, Mike? He looks normal ..

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to thesis_carl
10th Nov 2016 16:52

thesis_carl wrote:

Well obviously because we allowed too many 'thick' people a vote - I'm sorry, didn't you read what Phil said? Or indeed, Mike? He looks normal ..

Define thick...people with half a head/brain?

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to Kent accountant
10th Nov 2016 16:57

Ok, you made my point.

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to thesis_carl
11th Nov 2016 11:35

thesis_carl wrote:

We really need to rethink this whole democracy thing, that's two decisions it's got wrong in a row.

The result of a referendum or an election cannot possibly be "wrong" - the result can differ from your own opinion, but this does not make it wrong (unless of course there has been some kind of tampering with the votes or a mis-count).

I would have thought that somebody with such self proclaimed superior intelligence would have understood this?

I am genuinely surprised by events this year - not necessarily the results, but the reaction by quite a number of people.

People are looking at ways to prevent (or at least frustrate) Brexit, and now in the USA people are looking at ways to make the election result invalid or even "rejecting" the result.

I am not sure we have ever seen this before ?

Also, tv coverage of young people on both sides of the atlantic absolutely distraught and hysterically crying in public as the result did not go their way - what on earth is going on ?

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to B Roberts
11th Nov 2016 12:29

Ok look we're on the same side here - I merely chose a route more based on sarcasm. Apologies if that wasn't clear but hopefully I've now stopped the confusion before Disgusted of Droitwich weighs in. A more intelligent me would doubtless have said democracy is just fine and left it at that ...

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10th Nov 2016 10:10

Ah good to see you're in the "everyone who voted for brexit/Trump has screwed things up for the future" camp.

Another know-it-all eh? Trying to belittle anyone with a different opinion.

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By Mike18
10th Nov 2016 11:50

Mr Fisher has a good point about immaturity. The great British public named a research ship 'Boaty McBoatface' when they had the chance to decide. Now the more serious examples of Brexit and Trump show that 'populism' and all the charlatans who use its power have a friend in the democratic process. They are also turbocharged by social media and celebrity culture.

How many absurd ideas would get a majority in a simple vote? Nobody is ever held accountable because its 'the will of the people'

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to Mike18
10th Nov 2016 12:25

I take exception to the insinuation that people who voted Brexit were somehow immature. I have no time for "populism" and "celebrity culture". If anything, so far as I could tell, most of the so-called "celebrities" tended to vote for "Remain" in the EU referendum and for Clinton in the US.
I've said it before and will say it again. I voted for Brexit because I genuinely believed it was the right thing for our great country and for its citizens, to be free from the shackles of this monstrous Federal State behemoth in Europe. My parents and many others of their generation genuinely believed they were deceived in the original referendum in the 1970s and would never have voted "Yes" at the time to stay in if they knew what would happen.
Some people just cannot seem to accept that people have a right to vote how they see fit, even if it goes against the prevailing establishment view.

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11th Nov 2016 16:42

Perhaps the majority in the UK did not like the EU model of dictatorship. We have seen street traders hauled through the courts for selling fruit and vegetables by the pound while large carmakers deceive millions of people and damage their health and are able to continue trading. The spectacle of Dave wandering the capitals of Europe trying to reduce the tax on tampons and asking an unelected Juncker for some benefit reductions to migrants convinced many that the UK parliament should be accountable to the UK population. Threats of emergency tax rises, recessions and even World War 3 further discredited the remain campaign.
In the US Trump won because the Clintons were seen as mired in sleaze.
If the LibDems want to get back to a position of strength they will need to regain the trust of the population after their broken pledge on tuition fees.Some less scandal prone MPs will also be necessary otherwise they will continue to have their parliamentary meetings in a Chrysler Voyager.

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By cfield
to Knight Rider
11th Nov 2016 19:11

Knight Rider wrote:

If the LibDems want to get back to a position of strength they will need to regain the trust of the population after their broken pledge on tuition fees.


Surely the Liberal Democrats are now a contradiction in terms given that they are threatening to vote against Article 50. Someone should sue them under the Trade Descriptions Act. They should either change their name or buy a dictionary (they only need one for all 8 of them) and look up what democracy really means.
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By Locutus
12th Nov 2016 11:20

"Democracy could soon be in crisis in both Britain and America as a result of a worrying new trend"

Sorry Philip Fisher, you lost it in the opening sentence.

People generally vote for change when they are unhappy with the status quo - whether that be the UK's relationship with the EU or the election of Trump as President. That's what democracy is - essentially a vote on a version of the status quo or to change it.

I voted for Brexit and would happily do so again. I don't know a huge amount about the internal politics of the US, but as an outsider, I probably would have found it difficult to vote for either Trump or Clinton.

Although I found some of Trump behaviour oafish and policies (in as far as I know them) simplistic, I kind of understand how many of the voters were demanding change from the establishment voted for him, particularly if their lives are not that great.

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14th Nov 2016 16:25

Cfield - you are quite right, the Libdems are neither liberal nor democratic. the Weaselly Turncoat party would be more appropriate.
I do not accept that people in the UK or US took their vote lightly.
Bruce Springsteen didn't manage to swing it for Crooked Hillary
In the UK Leave won despite the OECD,Mark Carney,the IMF, Arsene Wenger, Jeremy Clarkson,some bishops, JK Rowling,Elton John,Simon Cowell, the CBI, Richard Branson(who lives in the Carribean), Bob Geldof, Billy Bragg, the BBC and heads of state from inside and outside the EU all warning of dire consequences if we voted to leave.
So perhaps the lesson is to appeal to people's hearts and minds rather than let experts and celebs use fear to maintain the status quo.

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By cfield
14th Nov 2016 16:56

Clarkson was the one who surprised me. You'd have thought Brexit would have appealed to him.

I voted to Leave but Trump is a different ball game altogether. The worst case scenario is a worldwide recession precipitated by protectionism, Putin having free rein to cause havoc in Eastern Europe and any solution to climate change disappearing for good (if it isn't too late already).

The lesson for all democracies is not to ignore the more disenchanted sections of society. Either that or make sure they have a bloody good candidate who will appeal to the masses and prevent demagogues taking power.

Say what you like about Obama, but at least he had wide appeal to the population as a whole. Trump wouldn't have beaten him in 2008 or 2012. The Democrats had 8 years to find someone who could fill his shoes (not that I'm a particular fan given his foreign policy failings) but failed dismally. The whole world will now reap the consequences.

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