A stately, plump man answered the door whilst I was canvassing yesterday. His hair had and oaky hue, his face was of equine length, and he appeared to me in an ungirdled yellow dressing gown. He peered at me through his outer glass door, suspicious and bored. As I began to explain my presence, he began to shake his head, apparently displeased, and muffledly intoned:
“I don’t want to hear about it.”
He then closed the door.
Now, since the last general election, my frequency at canvassing sessions has been admittedly poor. Due to a combination of various factors (mainly working weekends and my uneasiness with a Labour candidate, but also laziness) I have done the bare minimum, or possibly slightly less. Such is the reverence towards doorstep canvassing that admitting this here, in this forum, is obviously akin to pleading guilty to some sort of terrible crime for which I should be castigated, flogged even, possibly hanged.
In the past fortnight, I’ve been out knocking on doors almost every day for the People’s Pledge. Such is the length of time since I last did this often, I’d forgotten two things: firstly, how much I enjoy canvassing (ie. please don’t flog me, I’ll don a red rosette again soon) and secondly, how much some people don’t enjoy being canvassed.
The response of yesterday’s man was one of my favourites in a long while. His choice of words portrayed not only a apathy towards politics, but a strange sort of active disinterest. This is not a response unique to an EU referendum, or, as I’d previously considered, to the Labour Party, but a much commoner phenomenon, applicable to much wider range of topics. Political parties outside of North Korea can only dream of hitting upon a philosophy that strikes a chord with so many as exertive apathy does.
This man didn’t want to hear anything about anything. He had chosen a position of ignorance and was going to stick to it. So bored he is by anything to do with politics, that he will actively seek to avoid hearing anything about it, presumably for fear of forming an opinion.
The pressure of having to make a considered decision is such that swathes of people across the land have rejected the notion of critical thought. Or perhaps they never considered it, I don’t know. Maybe they spend their entire lives ignoring everything, staring at blank walls and listening to Keane. A growing nation of completely opinionless people, disaffectedly wandering through life, avoiding anything of interest, pawing absently at the edges of concern, unscalded by hot potatoes, constantly moving their towels away from the incoming tide of personal expression.
This isn’t some pejorative, chattering class “isn’t it a shame the plebs don’t take an interest” condescension. Opinion dodgers transcend class. From every walk of life they say nothing, from every background emanating beige.
You might, and I’m sure many will, lay the fault with the political class; blame expenses, broken promises or the dilution of ideology. But this would be to project your own opinions onto them, which, given that they’re a blank canvass of ideas, is admittedly an easy and tempting exercise. The truth is some people never care enough to be disenfranchised. They are, if anything, anti-franchisement. We’ll never connect with them. It can’t be done. We shouldn’t even bother. The question really is: can we stop it happening again? Should we care?
I don’t know. I don’t care. I don’t want to hear about it.