Archive for June 3rd, 2008

Cheese Wisely

Today I am voting No in the Lisbon Treaty. By which I mean, today I am of a mind to vote No, much as I hold foreign stuff in high regard, and much as I am aware that being of a mind to vote No places me in the company of plenty of eyes-out-on-stalks nutters.

One argument I have seen doing the rounds of late is this: there’s this total nutcase, right, and he’s voting No, so he’s helped me make up my mind: I’m voting Yes. There isn’t much to say about this other than the fact that to decide on this basis is even more deranged than the orignal nutcase’s decision to vote No. I mean, if you have already recognised that he is insane, you have to accept that he is insane regardless of how he votes. So when you say, he’s voting No so I’m voting Yes, you acknowledge the fact that he’s a nutcase, but you go ahead and vote in opposition anyway!

But, I’m not convinced that my vote will make a difference one way or the other, in that neither a Yes nor a No result will make any significant impact on the course of history. The character of the EU will not be changed by the result. And I am underwhelmed at the gilt-edged slice of democracy this particular exercise is supposed to represent.

One good reason to vote No, I think, is the fact that my eyes glaze over every time I read through interpretations of what the Treaty is likely to bring about. I have far better things to do than mull over this stuff for hours at an end. It’s like trying to choose between different private health insurers, but boringer.

Listen, I could bullshit you with a whole load of stuff about what the treaty means for the democratic deficit, subsidiarity (which my spellchecker doesn’t recognise), foreign policy and so on. I can articulate detailed arguments being presented by both sides. But that doesn’t mean I understand them.

That is, I understand the meaning of the words. But I think them through, and their meaning starts to collapse.

You know the way you look at a word, like ‘choose’. And you focus on it for a while, and it starts to stop meaning what you thought it meant when you first considered it, and starts to mean something else. Like the past tense of ‘cheese’. Well, that’s what happens to me when I start contemplating the Lisbon Treaty. And I see no reason to vote in favour of something that does this to me.

I had a walk around town yesterday. Local politicians, whom I have only ever seen on posters, are putting their faces to the Vote Yes/No question. On posters, once more, with PR-inspired slogans. In fairness, the No posters are more convincing, simply because they are scarier. There was one that showed a workman, in regulation fluorescent garb, getting crushed by a legislator’s gavel as his breakfast roll lay scattered on the floor. I think. The Yes posters are boring. If there is a really good reason to vote Yes, you’d think it could be neatly expressed on a poster in specific terms that the average Seosamh could understand. Instead, we get expressions of the same order as Guinness Is Good For You. There was an epidemic of ‘efficiency and effectiveness’ a week or so ago. Every prominent politician who was out to support a Yes vote was saying that it would make the EU more ‘efficient and effective’. Yes, but efficient at what? Effective at what? My own answer to this was supporting blockades of Gaza with a minimum of fuss, but I will let you come up with your own.


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June 2008
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