The politics of apathy

A while back I wrote to my MP. A few days ago, he wrote back. This is only the third time I have written to my MP and the first time I’ve had any reply whatsoever. It was negative but at least I got a response.

Many of my friends consider writing to their MP a waste of time. And they have statistically significant reasons for thinking that way. But is this a self fulfilling prophecy? I am coming around to the idea that in the system we pass off as a democracy many things stagnate through plain stupor.

It’s not that our representatives don’t have ideas. One thing I’ve noticed is a tendency to have, on demand, a hastily constructed and practically unshakable opinion on just about any subject raised. And sometimes it seems that their commitment to opinions is inversely proportional to the amount of thought they invested.

But there are practically limitless issues to be concerned with. Without a constant pressure to address an issue, it tends to fester. Unless my concern happens to be a personal bugbear of my MP he will likely continue to ignored it forever.

So the act of writing to my MP is a call to attention on the issue. And it’s likely that my MP won’t ever agree with me. After all I’m not going to raise an issue unless there is a problem with the generally accepted view. When forced to express an opinion on subjects we know little about, our most likely reaction is to defend the current norm. And given the lack of forethought in such a manoeuvre, it’s unlikely a view that is shakeable in a reasonable amount of time.

But even with all this, raising the issue is likely to spur debate. And once raised, the opposition will usually make equally ill considered stances in a desperate bid to provide a contrast. Once the debate catches fire and focus is directed on an issue, things usually start to change.

But is it change for the better or change for the worse? The optimist in me imagines that it really doesn’t matter too much in the long term. Changes for the better will be left to rest. Changes for the worst will continue to irritate and get another chance to be corrected on the next iteration.

4 Replies to “The politics of apathy”

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