For the purposes of this little rant, when I say politics I mean the democratic variety. And I’m not going tell you which team I go for.
And right off the bat, that’s half of why we love talkin’ politics.
It’s a Sport
A team sport! There’s team colours, people on the bench, substitutes. There’s even a championship every four years. If you’re super-keen you can even watch the training sessions on TV. There’s experts on the radio who will make predictions about the coming weeks and they will have someone to argue with who will precisely disagree.
We pick a team, we stick with them, and we argue with anyone that roots for the other team. It’s so obvious that they’re wrong and you’re right. Right? That’s illusory superiority my friend. And if you knew that was a thing and claim that you wouldn’t be a sucker for it, then that’s a bias blind spot my friend. We can do this all day.
And as with all sports, there’s an underdog. More on that later. But for now, reason number two that we love politics.
It’s a Soap Opera and Reality TV All in One
Oh my the characters! Take the synopsis from any cooking competition, shitty TV drama or house with cameras everywhere and you’ll see it’s almost exactly the same as the day’s political news. Here I’ve taken episode 10,135 of Days of Our Lives and replaced the names with some of your favourite political characters:
For the Aussies
Tony Abbott refuses to run away with Julia Gillard, insisting she must face her biological parents. While she showers, they burst in, tipped off by Bill Shorten who tracked Tony Abbott’s credit card use. Mindless Bronwyn Bishop nearly beats up Tony Abbott, who finally makes them realize she hates them, especially Eric Abetz. Back home only Joe Hockey controls himself, while Peter Dutton badmouths him again. Pauline Hanson is caught by Russell Broadbent at using Kevin Rudd’s computer to steal data she later slips to John Howard, but it’s Malcolm Turnbull who gets attacked as ‘vindictive liar’ instead for trying to denounce her.
For the Americans
Barack Obama refuses to run away with Hillary Clinton, insisting she must face her biological parents. While she showers, they burst in, tipped off by George Bush who tracked Barack Obama’s credit card use. Mindless Sarah Palin nearly beats up Barack Obama, who finally makes them realize she hates them, especially John Kerry. Back home only Mitt Romney controls himself, while Dick Cheney badmouths him again. Condoleezza Rice is caught by Al Gore at using Bill Clinton’s computer to steal data she later slips to John McCain, but it’s Michelle Obama who gets attacked as ‘vindictive liar’ instead for trying to denounce her.
But It Matters!
Unlike sport, or a soap opera, or reality TV, politics really matters. It shapes the world around us, it’s what separates us from the commies, right?
Well, sort of, but no. It matters that we have democracy. But it doesn’t matter which team is winning. Not a fucking lick of difference. I can’t change your mind, but you can change it yourself if you think real hard about it. Could it possibly matter which team is currently in charge? Think about it, you’ll get there.
[Girl From Ipanema]
You’re more likely to reassess the competition and adjust your selection next time you get a new car, fridge or phone than you are for your political party at the next election. You pick a side at a young age and stay with them for life. You – by definition – knew less about the political landscape when you first signed up than at any point since. If you have ever reassessed and switched sides, and you vote, then you might just not be one of the idiots.
Back to the underdogs. We love an underdog, in sports or in politics. That’s why nowhere in the world has one political party ever streaked ahead. Read that again. Even the mighty
Godzilla Jimintō can’t manage a 50 year stretch on top. Why not? Because the further ahead one party gets, the taller the poppy they are, the greener the grass on the other side, and the more appealing the little guy. Mass psychology works its magic, the votes swing ever so slowly, and ever so slightly, and balance is kept. Just like the planchette on the Ouija board, no one thinks that they are consciously spelling out where grandma hid the gold, but together, all the idiots act as one giant idiot.
So not only is it irrelevant which team is in charge, it’s impossible for any one team to stay in charge.
So Why, Dirk, Why?
I’m not sure why we all care so much. I think about it a lot, there must be some reason, right? But I have no wisdom to fake on this one. If I had to guess (and for the sake of a summary, I think I do) I would say that giving a fuck about politics connects us to the world. We are a part of that sports team. We’re there on the field with them in spirit, and we are part of our political party. We’re supporting them in their fight, sharing in their pride, and that feels good.
And feeling good is good.