Watching Prime Minister’s question time is a decidedly un-fun experience. If you are not bored by it, you’re annoyed. I fall into the latter camp. It makes me very annoyed, shouting at the TV annoyed. “Grow up,” I shout. “Stop chortling like self-satisfied public school boys and shouting things like ‘here here’. It doesn’t make you look clever, it makes you look like a dick.” And I’m not the only one. Recent research has shown that citizens increasingly have a negative view of their political leaders and political processes (Whiteley et al. 2013, Stoker et al. 2013). Word association exercises seem to link up ‘Politics’ and ‘Politicians’ with words like ‘deception’, ‘corruption’ and ‘privileged’. All this negativity is reflected in dropping voting rates. So, maybe it’s time for revolution… maybe the comedian is right. But I don’t think this ‘revolution’ should be so passive and comfortable as everyone staying in their houses and ignoring the ballot box come election season. Maybe rather than argue that someone else should solve the problems of our political system, we can look to ways to address these problems ourselves. “Be the change you want to see in the world”.
The change I want to see is a more engaging, inclusive and direct democracy. I don’t want to be turned off when I turn on the TV. I’d like to see democracy made fun again.
This is where I believe the arts and culture can play a fundamental role. The arts can encourage curiosity, empathy (Jo Broadwood 2012) and self-expression (John Dewey 1980), and these attributes can encourage active citizenship and democratic engagement. The value of the arts is not limited to its intrinsic value, but is apparent in the way it changes peoples lives, views, ability of expression and state of mind. This belief is becoming a movement that is filled with life and inspiration. (links below)
So, armed with arts and culture and all it has offered us, lets paint the town red and make democracy fun again.