Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Groundhog Election

Tuesday 2nd February was Groundhog Day, and an excuse to watch the movie again - one of my all time favourites. It's a story of redemption and a reminder that we mostly live on the surface of life, ignorant of the riches beneath. It brings to life Gandhi's advice to: "Live as if you were to die tomorrow, learn as if you were to live forever."

The main trope of the movie is that Phil Connors (Bill Murray in one of his best roles) gets to relive Groundhog Day over and over again: gradually maturing from a selfish nihilist obsessed with his own desires, to eventually become a compassionate, creative man caring for those around him.

Which brings us to General Election 2016, or what already feels like the Groundhog Election. Of course much has changed (mainly for the better) since 2011, but what hasn't changed is how little control over our collective future we actually have as a small, open economy, locked into the eurozone. Ireland has less say in how our politicians raise taxes and spend the proceeds than we (or they) realise.

But the 'deja vu all over again' feeling isn't about economic and fiscal policies. Indeed, some things are better left unchanged. Rather for me the feeling comes from seeing what Dan Klein calls The People's Romance in action again. That strange 'madness of the crowd' surge of sentiment that this time - together - we can set out on a new course, chart a different direction and finally, finally reach the promised land of [insert your favourite policies here] when "all shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well." It's a delightful idea - I'm as partial to it myself as the next idealist - but in the end I do know it's fiction, just like in the movie.

That said, do checkout out Smartvote - a sort of Tinder for Irish voters. And keep the romance alive...


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