Archive for June 10th, 2008

Damn You, Masses

IT SURELY says something about the dysfunctional state of Irish democracy that a majority of voters do not appear to be willing to trust the people they have elected to govern them on a fundamental issue of national importance for this and future generations.

Instead, they seem willing to put their faith in a rag-bag alliance including Sinn Féin, ultra-conservative Catholic groups, far-left activists and a wealthy man with connections to the warmongering US neo-conservatives who lives in an stately home.

According to this Irish Times analysis, it is only freaks of nature who would look at the evidence before them and decide based on that. The vast majority of citizens are there to be led. But at least Yes voters trust the leaders they elected, which shows some sort of slavish consistency! A citizen who votes No, on the other hand, must be doing so because she is simultaneously a Provo, a fascist Edel Quinn devotee, a Trotskyist and a Vulcan, not to mention a serf.

It is a sobering thought that the main reason for voting No to the Lisbon Treaty given by people consulted in the Irish Times poll is that they don’t know what they are voting for or they don’t know what it is about. There has been a deluge of information about the treaty over the past few months, but if citizens manage to avoid finding out what the issues are, they have to take some responsibility for that themselves.

Yes, if only everyone would sit down and read the Irish Times for an hour every day.

This is bullshit. Like I’ve said previously, I like to think I have a pretty good grasp of the issues involved, but that in itself doesn’t make the decision any easier. I have my own reasons for voting No, but the way in which the referendum is being presented -by politicians and media alike- is bound to drive more people toward a No vote. Not because of ignorance, but because the manner the choice is presented -Choose, or face the consequences!- has nothing to do with democratic choice, and a hell of a lot to do with being good little Irishpeople.

If voters won’t trust those who are in a position to know the facts of a situation and instead place their trust in those who often don’t know what they are talking about, the end result will inevitably be disaster.

A restatement of the idea that the role of the citizen is to trust those whom she elects and believe what she is told. If this is the case, why have elections at all?

I note that Fintan O’Toole laments in another article the lack of trust in politicians, yet on this evidence it is also true that the Irish Times doesn’t trust the people.

House Not Home, Lawyer Reveals

The final argument from the ‘Yes’ camp is that the ‘No’ side really doesn’t understand Lisbon. And, for once, they’re right. So why should I say ‘Yes’ to a legal document I don’t understand? My lawyer would never urge me to buy a house under such conditions.

Actually, one of the reasons you engage the services of a lawyer in house purchases is to interpret legal documents you don’t understand. So your lawyer would probably only urge you (if urge is the right word) to buy a house under those conditions.

In fact -and on this I must recant in part some of what I said in a previous post- the referendum commission performs a similar function in interpreting the basic meaning of Lisbon Treaty for you. Contrary to what is said in Myers’s article, the interpretation is clear and fairly easy to understand. What the referendum commission can’t do for you, however, is to foresee the reality of the European Union post-Lisbon, just as you wouldn’t expect your lawyer to advise you on future house prices. That part you have to figure out for yourself. And that’s the part that’s difficult for your average citizen (i.e. me) to understand. The usual mad dog’s shite from contemporary Father Coughlins, warning that the country will be overrun by Turkish Muslims unless you vote No, is an unwelcome distraction.

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June 2008
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