As Trump tweets made-up words in the middle of the night, and the real leader of the free world, German chancellor Angela Merkel, says America is now about as useful as wet candyfloss, Britain is going to the polls.
This time, instead of two identical parties trotting out the same old rot, there seems to be a choice.
Depending on your politics, it’s either ‘strong and stable’ versus ‘coalition of chaos’, or re-electing corporate-owned sociopaths versus electing a glimmer of hope for ordinary people and their public services. And by ‘their’, I mean ‘our’ — I’m one of the millions of Irish who live in Britain, pay tax here, have kids here. Like most ordinary people, I care about day-to-day stuff such as schools and hospitals more than buying more nuclear weapons or paying for wars with people I’ve never met.
Also, given how the catastrophic fall out from the Brexit idiocy will extend a tidal wave of chaos all the way to my native shores, I care about how the UK general election will impact on Ireland as well as on the Irish in Britain. I wish I didn’t give a rat’s ass about any of it, but I do. You’d have to be in a permanent vegetative state — or a Ukip voter — not to.
Truly, I am nauseated by it all. Nauseated like a pregnant woman in a fish shop. Sick to the gills of liars, cheats, robots, and charlatans. But what can you do, as an ordinary citizen? Ingesting mainstream media is ulcerating; it brings you out in hives. Following social media is entertaining, but incoherent and unreliable. Hiding under the sofa until we are all nuked either by Washington or Pyongyang is looking more appealing by the day, as is locking yourself in the bathroom with a thallium smoothie.
Bubbling with impotent rage can be a powerful catalyst to turn off the news and get out of the house. But to do what? Smashing windows is childish. Setting yourself on fire would hurt. Joining your political party of choice is a definite step towards easing that corrosive feeling of powerlessness, psychologically at least. But what can you do that might actually be practical? Knocking on doors, leafleting, campaigning, donating — all of it helps. A bit.
As does handing out voter registration forms to street homeless people. I’ve spent the past few weeks cycling around with a pile of downloaded photocopied forms, harassing homeless voters to register to vote. I’m not from any political party, is the message I’ve been delivering to people living in shop doorways and tents and cardboard boxes under bridges, but please vote. Most people have nodded and smiled, and taken the forms — maybe just to make the madwoman on the bicycle go away and leave them in peace. Whatever. It worked for me.
Who knows what will happen this Thursday: Polls predict a turkeys-voting-for-Christmas outcome. Let’s hope the turkeys wake the fuck up, before it’s too late.