Family Life Personal Political

This Little Vote Of Mine

Trying hard not to be cynical about politics

Politics, eh?

Hello! …  you still there?

Politics, eh?

The very word makes us see red, or click off.

Yet it’s central to our lives: “The activities associated with the governance of a country or area, especially the debate between parties having power”, says friend Google.

Politics is about how we run the world, the continent, the country, right down to matters like preserving or cutting down beautiful mature trees in our town because their roots are starting to lift paths slightly, and people might trip up. And sue the local authority.

In Ireland, we recently voted, on the same day, for our European Parliament representatives and for the councillors who will represent the community on our local authorities.

Those same councillors will have their work cut out, especially when they often have to face down those same local authorities.

Just this week in Skerries, a lovely seaside town just down from us, many local people were incensed when our local authority set about cutting down a number of mature Norwegian maple and London plane trees lining the town’s main streets.

A hundred years for these trees to reach their full leafy glory, and what, half an hour to tear them down?

Were they diseased or interfering with traffic?

No, the seven-day notice from Fingal Council justified cutting down one of the trees “because it’s heaving a pavement”.

One local business guy, an artist and sculptor, attempted to secure a tree preservation order from Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, but it had simply referred him back to the local authority.

So our artist activist ended up chaining his van to one of the trees, and others  involved are canvassing support and putting up stickers reading “please don’t cut me” around other trees designated for removal, and the drama is unfolding as I write.

Democracy, eh? The will of the people?

Is it any wonder we feel so removed from the levers of power?

Take that disaffection to its most extreme and you get Brexit

Brex …

Hello!  … you still there?

I know. I won’t say it again.

Bre … only joking.

So it’s easy to be cynical, or feel powerless.

And that’s only us adults.

What’s maybe more worrying though is just how removed our children are from thinking about politics, or democracy.

And it’s not just because they are stuck on their iPhones.

It’s natural, I suppose, for kids and teenagers to be a tad self-obsessed, to the detriment of taking an interest in things around them.

I’m always amazed at how teens can be up in arms about global warming and slaughtering animals for meat, but try and get them to put their cereal bowl in the dishwasher …

Okay, okay, a bit of gratuitiously snide retaliation …

But I do wonder.

Like, both our kids are in the junior cycle in their secondary school, and they do a thing called Civic, Social and Political Education (CSPE), supposedly aimed at “helping them to engage in the community, the country and the wider world”.

Sounds good.

Bu let me give you a reasonably accurate report of my discussion with our almost 14-year-old son about a recent visit with his school to our national parliament, Dáil Éireann (Irish Parliament).

Me: “How was it in the Dáil today, was it good?”

Him: “Dad it was literally the most boring thing ever …

Me: “What did you do on the tour? Where did you go?”

Him: “Well we were there watching them doing their politics … so boring …

Me: “And then?“

Him: “We saw these paintings ..

Me: “What paintings?”

Him: “All the Taoiseachs (Prime Ministers)” …

Me: “And what else did you do?”

Him: “Well we were in the Seanad (upper house of the Oireachtas (Legislature)) for literally two minutes … so boring”

Me: “That was it?”

Him: “We went to McDonalds …”

Me: “Anything else on the tour before that? …”

Him: “We were talking to a TD (Teachta Dála, or Member of Parliament), asking questions, well he was telling us things” …

Me: “Who was the TD?”

Him: “Alan Kelly …”

Me: “Oh, wow, he was a minister in the last government … did you know his brother is a hugely successfully business man (Declan Kelly, international business figure, PR guru, advisor to Hilary Clinton and all sorts, worth millions)

Him: “So that’s why he was wearing a Gucci watch … his brother wouldn’t give him money of course!” (makes exaggerated face, O’s version of sarcasm) …

He’s only 13!

What hope have we if the next generation are so cynical about politics!!

Yes, it’s easy to be cynical.

But it’s also not easy when you are not cynical.

A guy I know quite well ran in the local elections.

Glenn is mid-forties, personable, been around, always interested in politics (with a small p), does all sorts, teaches music to kids with intellectual disabilities, a really sound fella.

He cares!

He ran as an independent, ie no political party affiliations, researched assiduously, identifying local issues and concerns, went knocking on as many doors as he could, put up as many election posters as he could afford.

Without the big party machinery there were only so many people he could talk to, and he did well, but got nowhere near the numbers needed to be elected.

Talking to him afterwards, he was hugely disappointed, initially, but had come to realise this was just the beginning.

He has to keep at it, keep going for election, keep pressing on.

And he will.

But an interesting thing he pointed out, when he was looking into the whole thing, analysing where he got most support, and identifying those places where he had to build up support for next time, one statistic jumped out at him.

It was the low voter turnout in the most disadvantaged areas.

In other words, those in most need of proper political representation, to work for the services and opportunities so lacking there, were not going out to vote.

As Glenn said, you could be cynical, and ignore these areas when canvassing, go to the places where more people vote.

“Like the big political parties do,” I interjected.

He laughed, but didn’t disagree.

Worse, nasty forces can build up a power base among the disaffected, harness their anger and resentment for nefarious purposes

But these are the places Glenn wants to support, and so he will persevere, and push to get more people there voting next time.

Politics, eh?

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60 comments on “This Little Vote Of Mine

  1. Horrible stories here about how rural villages have been so ignored by campaigners that they think there’s only one option to vote for – the incumbents who slip them some extra money in their pensions or pay their gas bills before elections… no wonder the same lot keeping winning.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Karen Dennis

    I have heard about these terrible happenings #dreamteam@_karendennis

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m very cynical about politics and politicians too, and I’m only 65! The world needs more Glenn’s taking an interest in those disadvantaged communities but, sadly, they are much more likely to get attention from the extremists who peddle their lies (q.v. Brexit!).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, the poor trees! My kids have a little interest in politics which I think is good. When I was growing up my interest was zero. I remember feeling proud that a woman got to be a prime minister.* I was young and foolish, what else can I say (I was also too young to vote at the time, so don’t blame me!) We need a change, and fast, and the children need to know that they are the future of politics so we can’t let them lose interest. I don’t want to talk about Brexit.

    *I’m not talking about Theresa May

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, there is a disconnect between kids and their passion, and the way the world is run, especially at a local level. It would be so good to harness that energy and enthusiasm in a positive way. Make the world a better place!

      Like

    • Hi Anne … I do’t want to talk about Brexit either! I would love to know how to get kids connected to politics, starting at the local level, and building up. It’s crucial

      Like

  5. We’re definitely on the same page this week. It does strike me as sad that the areas of the country both here and in Ireland that need the greatest level of representation are likely to be those who are least likely to vote. Another reason why compulsory voting and proportional representation are needed in my opinion.

    #abitofeverything

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is really interesting. My niece (a little older) is keen to use her vote and is engaged with politics, as I understand are her friends. My boys (aged 8, 6 and 4 so some way off getting their opportunity to have a say) are also interested when we discuss how the country is run and they don’t always agree with my point of view which I rather like! My older boys are involved in whole school debates though where they make student led decisions. Perhaps that approach makes the difference. Our local MP is also very hands on and they have seen him in real life and on the telly in the House of Commons which again I think helps. I hope that their interest continues and their secondary schools (when they get there) can keep their early engagement going. Great post! #ABitOfEverything

    Liked by 1 person

    • So good to hear of people like your niece being so engaged … teens here are so short of positive role models, as the debates on television and in the media are dominated by the clapped out mainstream hacks … so many have been turned off by this, and I imagine it will have to start earlier, getting the kids involved at a local level, and studying stuff on politics in school that can be seen to have practical, tangible implications, not just an academic subject, removed from the day to day …

      Like

  7. So very interesting. I guess all over the world, people are listening to the yellers and screamers and not to those who make sense. Thanks for sharing this. #dreamteam.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Good luck to the tree huggers! It’s funny to read that politicians in every country are all the same. And if the problems in Ireland weren’t bad enough, now you have Donald Trump visiting for a few days. Do you want to keep him over there?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Anita Faulkner - Brazen Mummy Writes

    Urgh, chopping down ancient trees. I must admit they’re a bugger to get the pushchair over when the roots tear up the pavement, but I don’t think that calls for tree murder. Great post, as always. #It’sOK

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Anita … I agree they are a but if a nuisance but they can do better than that. Especially when people don’t want them to do it. Too late when they’re cut down

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Tracey Carr

    You’re right, if we can’t get the adults engaged then how are we ever going to get young people to care. I am the biggest cynic of them all at times so I hope that doesn’t rub off on my daughters. I love the fact that the people in Skerries are fighting to save the trees, that’s fantastic. I think the problem is that there is so much insincerity in the world it can be hard to know who to believe in (I know that’s how I feel most of the time) #itsok

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, when the people are up in arms, Tracey, then things must be bad!!! We couldn’t believe it, those lovely trees and those idiots just in there loping them down. Crazy!

      Like

  11. We had over half a million informal votes. Given the state of the country, this was extraordinarily disappointing of our ‘adult’ population. It is unfortunate that we got what we deserved. It will be 3 very long and difficult years for Australians, starting with the hip pocket. #ABlogginggoodtime

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Ian Northeast

    Another great Post….. I love to talk politics and (un)fortunately that has rubbed of on the kids. Which in turn can lead to some interesting debates at the dinner table. You friend made a great discovery and I have been wittering on about, in my opinion the biggest sway in politics will come from the people who do not normally vote and are not engaged. Like you mention, these are the people who also need the change too.

    Like

  13. Oh no… now don’t get me started on the trees! Our road used to be tree lined until the powers-that-be decided that they needed to go. It’s now sort of dotted with a small handful of baby trees… but no where near enough in my opinion. Funnily – after learning about the suffragettes, mine is chomping at the bit to learn about politics and eagerly waiting to be able to vote. Thanks for sharing with the #DreamTeam 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good for yours … can’t see our pair wanting to save the world, even if our girl suddenly turned veggie a few weeks ago, leaving us to come up with decent menu options. She’s doing exams, so we will wait till they are over to get her to start looking up options herself. She is actually a terrific cook and baker, when she wants to.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Thanks for linking up to #wotw

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Karen Dennis

    Popping back from another linky #kcacols@_karendennis

    Liked by 1 person

  16. calamitylu

    Its so hard to encourage people to engage in politics when even half the politicians come across as disinterested, self serving and cynical

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are right, but it does not have to be like this. I feel school could do much more than they do in this regard.

      Like

  17. I think politics has become deeply unpopular. No single party represents my views on all topics meaning that I have to compromise somewhere as do we all. Thanks for linking up with #globalblogging

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes it is about compromise, but if we had a better educated electorate that compromise would be of a far higher order. Thanks Laura

      Like

  18. I really wish politics was a core subject at school it is so important yet so many people are disengaged with it. When I see turnout figures and the people who need to be represented most saying their vote doesn’t count or they don’t care it breaks my heart. #kcacols

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree totally, I would love to see a school subject that connects kids with the world around them in a way that they would get, so they could see how local issues and world events are not separate things, and that they can impact on the world in positive ways. At the very least it might tackle that disconnect bewtween kids and the world around them whic I feel is dangerous for democracy and fair play. Thanks for commenting Jade

      Liked by 1 person

  19. ERFmama

    We don’t hear much about politics in our village. I must admit we don’t get much involved either. It has just never ever interested me. As a foreigner living in the UK, I can’t vote or do much.

    I think politics seems to be just the same svada spewn from one to the next, they all say the same things, hate the same things and promise you the same things. 😦

    #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

    • True, that is why, like your mission regarding car seat safety, I would like to see political matters taught properly in schools, so kids might make better chouces later, and engage better with the world around them, rather than leavcing it to the worst of us to represent us in parliament and in the world at large. Thank you for commenting

      Like

  20. To be honest after the last year I am sick of hearing about politics!
    It seems such a shame to cut trees down when they have been there for so long. Ugh!
    My teen has a big interest in politics and is very opinionated which I think is fantastic.

    Like

  21. Crazy times we live in right now X #wotw

    Liked by 1 person

  22. It may have been boring but your son seems to have taken it in. From small acorns, as they say. My son had a trip to London and the Houses of Parliament, last year, and even now comes out with another little nugget he remembers. Good luck to the tree protesters. All the years the trees have been there. Surely they can build a ramp over the roots or something. So quick to cut down. #wotw

    Liked by 1 person

    • I suppose he has Cheryl … I’m surprised he even remembered that politician’s name. Yeah, the tree protesters, those lovely trees felled by the forces of idiocy, posing as our guardians …

      Like

  23. Tracey Carr

    Very late but back from #ablogginggoodtime !

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I’ve lost more followers than I care to think about writing about politics, but so much of parenting is worrying about the world that they are entering, the one that we are creating for them, that I don’t know how to avoid it. oh well #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

    • Obviously I couldn’t either .. and have the big drop in readers for this post to prove it, hehe. Thanks Jeremy

      Like

  25. Enda, as usual, a great and thought-provoking piece. Really made me think. Thanks for sharing. #ThatFridayLinky

    Like

  26. Tracey Carr

    Hi Enda, back from #KCACOLS !

    Liked by 1 person

  27. The kids in my town are very engaged about the environment and such like that but when it comes to politics they are confused. And bored. I remember when I turned 18 and could officially vote, I didn’t. Politics didn’t interest me for one and for two, I had the same mentality as most non voters – The politicians don’t care about me so why should I vote. Nothing will change either way so why should I vote? Our young people are more engaged than we were at their age but we need to do more to get them involved. Like maybe make politics the opposite of boring. Just a thought. #ABloggingGoodTime

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Those poor trees! My next door neighbour has the same issue with a tree forcing up her paving stones in the garden but our housing association decided to keep the tree (probably as it is much less trouble than her!) On politics, my daughter is 13 with zero interest in the subject but more worrying is that two of my sisters in their 30s refuse to use their vote yet always complain about politicians etc.

    I think your friend is totally right though, living in a somewhat disadvantaged area myself, there is consistently a low turn out for voting here and it really needs to change. Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next time

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, item number one: I would not be impressed by those who complain about politics and politicians and do not vote; item number two, it really is soul-destroying to consider how those who need representation the most do not engage, or if they do, it’s too often with rabble-rousers and others who are really taking advantage of their anger, not their needs. Thanks for commentingTracey, and we can only hope our kids take more of an interest in these things. By the way, it seems the local council have carried on with their tree wrecking mission!!

      Like

  29. I’m as bad as a teenager and don’t really follow politics very much at all. I believe the reason I’m like that is that I don’t see any changes being proposed that I feel will make a positive difference in our community/country. I think it’s a royal joke that Trump is our president because he’s definitely not taking this position seriously.

    Like

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