Purely by coincidence, and unbeknownst to each other, two members of a certain political party recently pointed out to me the fact that the Progressive Democrats no longer existed was, to them, a sign of failure. It was an interesting observation, because it revealed to me the unfamiliar idea that, to them, the permanent existence of a political party was an end objective in itself, even if that party had outlived its usefulness.
It’s an idea I’ve written about before, primarily because I’m intrigued at the idea of people in politics with little interest in the politics of ideas as opposed to winning elections.
For example, it recently occurred to me that there are only two real political issues that still hold my attention in an exciting way, in terms of being areas where action is actually possible. The first is the future of the Seanad, and the second is gay marriage, both of which will probably be resolved with the next three years.
Now, it’s true there are other issues, like the economy, political reform and the EU which also interest me. But the difference with those issues is that, barring a radical change within the political system itself, nothing much will happen with them. Economically, FF, FG and Labour are the same party. Barring some minor tinkering, the Fianna Fail/Fine Gael/Labour political establishment will work together to keep the political system primarily what it is today, a source of employment for a certain personality type, and the future of the EU will be decided in more serious countries.
Don’t believe me? Just watch how Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour bury the Constitutional Convention’s most radical proposal to ban TDs being ministers. Just watch.
In short, save for the odd referendum, the average middle of the road voter probably no longer actually needs to vote, because the proportions of Fianna Failers or Fine Gaelers or Labourites making up the majority of the Dail won’t really effect the price of eggs in any real sense.
After all, do you really give a toss about which careerist wannabe TD gets to pass through a county council chamber, past the county manager who actually runs the county (and whom you can’t elect), on the way to the Dail? A Dail which our Save The Seanad political establishment tells us is a mixture of shite and potentially dictatorial anyway?
Remember, the right to vote is sacred. The right. Nobody said you have to use it.