As a former supporter of the Liberal Democrats, I found my support leaning toward Labour due to the Lib Dems’ ongoing disastrous coalition with the Conservative party. But in truth, the Labour party are just a convenient political marker for some of my opinions on economic and social policy. What I really care about, I suppose, is progress – changing things that are broken, trying new ideas until we discover something that makes the country work better.
But all three main parties now label themselves as “Progressive”. (I suppose “regressive” isn’t much of a vote-winner.) The minor parties mostly have limited agendas that make it impossible to support them to the exclusion of all others. Who, then, do I vote for? The truth is probably that none of the UK’s political parties are as progressive as I would like, but more than that – a politician being progressive on my behalf isn’t really what I want at all.
I want to design the future.
Then I want to engineer the future.
Then I want to sit back and think “bloody hell, we made that.”
That’s what gets me out of bed and halfway across the county five mornings a week, what keeps me sketching interfaces and gets me through design meetings, what keeps me coding and soldering and getting covered in grease and salt-spray.
I’m not pretending that I could engineer the future of this country by myself, or that I should have any more of a say than the other sixty million of us, but I’d like to at least have some input besides a simple vote. As far as I’m aware, there exist only two ways of having this kind of input – sell your soul for a career in politics, or be ignored on e-petitions.
All of this leads me to the conclusion that having our voice heard and our experience utilised on our own terms is not something that a nation state can offer its citizens. Our voices are heard and our experience utilised by our families and friends; at our places of work – tribes of a few hundred people at most – but not on a national scale.
Is there some useful way for citizens to help engineer their future at the state level, or are we relegated to having that kind of influence only in our hundred-strong social tribes? Are there any countries that are significantly better at this than ours, countries that progress with heavy citizen involvement? Am I dreaming of an impossible society, and most importantly of all, should I go to bed and sleep it off instead of filling the internet with my ranting?