Not long ago I was wandering around my student union when I came across a poster. ‘VOTE JOE BLOGGS’ it said in bold Arial font, with colours a disconcerting range of blacks and reds more suited to the London Dungeon or a GCSE PowerPoint presentation. I had a little look over his priorities: FREE EDUCATION the poster shouted at me, RECORDED LECTURES it went on, BETTER WI-FI. Each point had a little tick after it which seemed to suggest that he’d already done these things, or else that he was so amazing that voting him in would make Wi-Fi signals instantly better thanks to the signal booster he keeps clenched between his buttocks.

I can say without much doubt that this lad was new to university politics. If not he was either extremely idyllic or extremely cynical in his attempt to do little more than add another bullet point to his CV. The checklist was on point. It was clear that he knew his audience if nothing else. But he seemed blissfully unaware that he was, point for point, a virtual carbon copy of everyone who had run the previous year … and the year before, for that matter. Given that this was my third year, I couldn’t account for any further back than that but I would have bet my student loan that every single point had come up time and time again and had yet to come close to being resolved. He was the same copy/paste white middle class Brit with the same ‘ideas’ as everyone else who had ever run for his position, or indeed any other. Nothing he wanted to fix had yet been fixed and he would certainly not be the one to do it. Unless he had some absurd resources behind him, a slew of powerful contacts and the willingness to pay for everything himself, nothing would change because the university had no interest in putting itself out in any way. So there’s democracy for you.

With the general election fast approaching it is worth saying that national politics aren’t any different. Plato famously said that democracy was second only to despotism as far as terrible methods of governance are concerned. He wasn’t aware that well over 2000 years later that would be a misnomer. In the twenty-first, twentieth, nineteenth or any other century you care to mention, democracy and despotism are indistinguishable in practice (much like monarchy and despotism, socialism and despotism, communism and despotism, theocracy and despotism or any political ideology you would care to suggest and despotism).

Last year a study was carried out by Princeton University, Professor Martin Gilens and Northwestern University, Professor Benjamin I. Page. The results were released and it was concluded that, far from democracy, US society is, in practical terms, an oligarchy. That was news in the same way it was news when an eclipse was blocked out by cloud cover; regrettable if almost inevitable. It is no different across the pond where the interests of big business are exponentially weighted and prioritised over the disenfranchised masses (though that is to be expected given that it is these systems that have caused the said disenfranchisement).

Voter turnout in the UK is constantly dropping not because we no longer care about our country but because our country no longer cares about us. There will always be someone to throw out the Kennedy ‘ask not what your country can do for you’ line, but in truth it’s a two-way street. It must be remembered at all times that as tax paying citizens the government is designed to serve us (and indeed as humans we are, if not naturally inclined to, then at least most fulfilled when serving each other). The baseline for government/citizen interaction should be the government keeping its citizens healthy while the citizens pay taxes to sustain infrastructure.

That’s not to say I expect David Cameron to be some combination of Robin Williams’ genie from Aladdin and C3PO from Star Wars (though he does look shockingly similar to the latter), offering us drinks, fishcakes, and a big song and dance number on a silver platter every time the mood takes us; rather, I expect our employees not to sell-off institutions created for the express purpose of keeping us alive. Remember the parable Jesus told about the man who left his servants with parts of his fortune to look after while he was gone? In the parable the master came home to find all but one of the servants had multiplied their wealth in his absence. Well imagine the master came home to find his home partially destroyed and being forced to cough up some cash to burly bouncer named Moe just to get a cuppa.

Why is it that the will of the superrich is so consistently imposed upon us? Is it because we keep electing perverse Pinocchios and expecting them to dance to our tune? Why don’t we do our own dirty work?

We live in a world where proportional representation needn’t really be thing. In the age of technology we could very well have one-to-one representation on any issue. Why then do we still even have MPs? On the microcosmic level of student politics why do we even need representatives? Granted that some simple internet voting system may be too vulnerable to sabotage on a grander scale, but the affairs of student politics are so inconsequential in the long run that it makes no difference if someone hacks the system to get more grape juice available in the cafeteria. The answer in the case of student politics isn’t complicated and on a national or global scale it’s so simple it’s almost childish. As I said, students want something to put on their CVs or just the experience, both of which are commendable. MPs on the other hand want their own interests to supersede those of the people that would stand in their way.

The problem there, is that if you have to bolster your ideas with superior firepower (either literal or rhetorical) then you’re already admitting that you’re in the wrong. The idiom ‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone’ is interpreted in reverse and the selfish desires cast stones at the otherwise blameless. A mum in a PTA meeting doesn’t need a double-barreled shotgun to convince everyone that a bake sale might be a nice idea, but she might if she follows that up by suggesting they use the money to buy her family a Ferrari (this was a particularly successful bake sale).

Parties like the BNP, EDL, or UKIP are symptomatic of this same perversion that is rampant in systems like our own. They will always exist in a world where power is removed from the hands of the people. It is time we removed this unnecessary middle-man, the parties, the MPs, the PM, and put the power for each choice into the hands of the people in any way possible.

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