By Peter Macfadyen
After the initial shock of the UK’s referendum vote to leave Europe, both major political parties imploded. Resignations, sackings, recriminations….. and for a brief moment there was opportunity. But like a cockroach reassembling and running off moments after it has been splatted, the Tory party (with arms firmly twisted behind backs) were suddenly back to business – all smiles.
Will the same be true in America? We have seen Trump shaking ‘a fine President’ by the hand. Will Trump simply slot into the system, cause a bit of damage and find legislative change harder than corporate? My contention is that current political systems are totally unfit for purpose in the 21st century. Trump is simply a realisation of this.
There are two opportunities for the vital change that can recreate democracy: Now, before the chaos settles and there is enough anger, confusion and energy. And later when those who voted for Trump see his lies for what they are and the promises start to collapse.
What we lack to take advantage of these moments is the ‘political confidence’ to engage. Most people declare they are not interested in ‘politics’ – but when pushed they turn out to have views and opinions and often to be involved in all kinds of initiatives which promote these. I believe we need to reclaim politics from the politicians (and now the clowns who have hijacked it from them!).
One way to do this is surely to foster mass engagement by ‘ordinary people’ in the community levels of our political systems. In the UK this means providing the tools to support people who care about issues in their streets, villages and towns to take over the town hall, rewrite the rules and start doing things by the people for the people. Frome – along with a handful of other towns – has shown this is possible. If more people find ‘politics’ doesn’t have to be all about conflict and that we can do it ourselves, rather than looking to either game show hosts or the political elite, then maybe the wisdom of the masses can tackle the big issues humankind faces?