August 17, 2006

Politics is everywhere…so why is everyone so apathetic?

My maths teacher in Year 7, making an ulitimately futile point to me, said that studying the obtuse angles of triangles and conducting simultaneous equations was not a complete waste of time because: 'Maths is everywhere'.
Going to a Catholic High School, the same point was made about God in R.E., whilst reading Shakespeare and Priestley formed valuable life lessons in English that I have since unfortunately neglected. The sciences and geography have similar levels of physical relevance, and history, as the study of the past, obviously provides importance lessons for our future.
Why then when I say that I'm studying Politics, the almost universal response is a sharp intake of breath, and more often than not an utterance of an 'oh dear'? It seems, not just in an academic sense, the public at large see fit to ignore Politics as irrelevant to their lives. All this does is widen the space between the politically motivated and the rest of society.
The mistake most people seem to make is to shove Politics into a party political and institiutional box. Although I'm a card–carrying member of the Liberal Democrats, I can fully understand the public's increasing apathy in this regard. Nothing annoys me more than career politicians, individuals who see personal gain as a necessary companion to any policy, reform or political action. The patriachal, hierachical system that still largely prevails especially in Britain is genuinely sickening (sorry to sound like a feminist), and the victims, are of course, those in society who are neglected in favour of populist policy.
This may prove to be the ultimate legacy of New Labour and Tony Blair, but all parties are partially responsible. Turnout is low because trust in politicans as human beings rather than self–interested androids is low. The role of sensationalist media hasn't helped, but this is preferable to the dewy–eyed reverence the great unwashed had for pre–war politicians.
However, these problems can be addressed. Primarily the solution is to recognise that all human relationships have a political essence. Whether it be one–on–one relationships, or small–scale systems of power (as I've come to find out in the voluntary bookshop I'm currently working in), there is always a degree of political friction.
Of course this is a simplified, naive approach, but national and international complications can, in my opinion, be related to more familiar day–to–day concepts. If the political climate can change, then more citiziens will take notice, but this requires 'politicians' of all ages to assess the real purpose of their professional lives.
If politicans can use the same system of rationale we use to iron out these small scale difficulties in the wider world, it might take longer to iron out problems, but at least the public might be able to relate the manner of politicians' behaviour to their own, normal, characteristics.

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