If Politics was a Room, Would You Tactically Vote?

Now it’s your turn to speak…“We’re sick of this!” everyone yells in different languages.

What if politics was visible? If politics was a room, would we act any differently?

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By Jennie Phan

Would it still feel like choosing poisons?

The system of politics is distant and bureaucratic. Just like money as a medium of exchange makes it harder for humans to understand costs; mass-democracy as a medium of politics makes it harder for humans to understand power.

In a room with people you hate you’d walk away. There’s not much chance to opt out when this world is your home.

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In this room it seems like voting for them would be madness, right? But in this room you can’t escape, there are monsters within the walls. Money flows everywhere, politicians rotating between private appointments and public responsibilities, lobbyists pushing private agendas, media adding to the din and the chaos. Tax-evading private companies, dangerous philosophies, complicated systems, are all squeezed into this room with you.

The room is crowded and diverse, and shaped by many other influences other than voters; how will you be heard?

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When you finally get your precious vote the room pretends to quieten down to listen to all the little people; though it carries on the background. You see them shifting and shuffling in the shadows.

You know your voice is not as important as the system tells you, but now it’s your “turn” to speak, along with every other little person in the system.

Instead of the whole group demanding to be let out, or to get rid of the lobbyists and the scaremongering media and the corruption, the group now yells and shouts incoherently about each person’s individual problems.

We’re all sick of this, everyone yells in different languages. Some people yell for less taxation, more punishment, more security, whilst others yell for more freedom, more equality, more legislation; but none of them come through clearly.

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The big people at the center of the room nod their heads and pretend to listen. They already know what’s right and wrong. After the “listening” is over, the players come back and continue their show.

The big people at the center decide what they heard from the little people’s incoherent ramblings, and some of them even feel heard.  Yet the people who didn’t get what they wanted, who see the shadowy figures pulling strings in the background,  are less easily persuaded.

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These cynical people might call the shadows different things. Some call them illumnati, for others they are capitalists, or are they communists and degenerates? Are they too enamoured with old traditions, or betraying their faith? Efforts to identify these shadowy figures rarely join up, the enemy dances between identities with ease.

Amidst noise and the corruption, how you shout becomes a very small question. You can shout with other people, to try and be better heard, or to shout your own voice, to be more authentic. In this calamitous din, the little people are a tiny piece of the puzzle, and being continually fed through a system designed to push and pull them in all directions. Your vote is miniature, it’s almost meaningless, except to you.

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If this really was a room, you would run out of there screaming.
But it’s not, and you have to stay here.

Whatever is heard, it won’t change the room substantially, the people and corruption will not go away. No-one except you will know how you vote, or care. The power is already sunk into the system, and everyone’s aware of this, and no one has defeated it.

Why does this room make so much space for shadowy and mysterious figures?  Who built the room and decided that shouting was a good way to be heard?

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There isn’t much thinking space here. A lot of time is spent just trying to stay upright. Some people try to reach the edges so they can break out. Others believe if they reach power, they’ll finally change it. Others try to help the people around them, despite the heaving crowds. Some, trampled by the room, only hope to stand. Others despair and would burn the whole mess down.

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If politics was a room we still wouldn’t manage it. We still couldn’t run it. We each add to the mess. There’s no easy answer to being a human, and living in a society with other humans.

Understanding what we can’t control is the first step to recovery. Would you act any differently if you saw the money that runs the world? How would you spend your precious spare energy? Would you help people underneath you? What solution would you offer?

Most importantly, the room is a metaphor. We’re already in the system, and this is our reality. Our dysfunctional reality is bigger but within it we still have as much choice as we’d have in that argumentative messy and crowded room. What do you choose?

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Afterword:

Thanks for reading! This turned into a bit of a creative writing exercise, and it reminded me of writing for English classes at school.

It’s weird, when you’re writing essays in school you never think about writing in the real world, where you get to decide what your goal is, and who your audience are. Mainly, I wanted to look at politics a different way, on a deeper and more philosophical level here than just “does tactical voting work” and “should i vote for Biden or still Bernie”. Personally I find this metaphor a useful tool which reflects how I live.

My opinion on the forces that run our world don’t matter any more than they would in a room full of yelling; what matters is the actions those opinions inspire me to take.

I know there’s a history of “mysterious forces” being coded Jewish, and I do not endorse this. However, I do have more in common with someone looking for a scapegoat than with someone who believes the system makes sense; so perhaps that’s a thread for another week.

I hope if you’re reading this that you are staying safe and your life is being made no harder than it has to be.  Best wishes. ❤

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