Last night in Britain 8 million tuned in to vote a housemate out of a tv show called Big Brother. That's 8 million. 8 million people who can be manipulated into paying a premium rate phone call to vote for someone they have never met and who will almost certianly have no direct impact on their lives.
In the UK and the States the turnout rates for elections which determine those people who are to represent us across all tiers of government are depressingly low. It is a truism that people will not turn out to elect that person who will make crucial decisions about their lives and yet an episode of a banal tv program will engage them. As Rolf Harris sings...."oooh it makes me wonder". .......if only we could tap that thinking and turn it to a more "productive" use.
As newspaper after newspaper headlined Big Brother stories and every TV channel (free to air and paid)had BB story as breaking news I began day dreaming.... what if we put all the politicians in a Big Brother House and observed them 24/7 going about their day, discussing real things and behaving like real people? They would have no hiding places...no furtive conversations that weren't observed ...what then? What if we managed to see, for just a month perhaps, the real people behind the spin living under Big Brother rules? Allow yourself to imagine for just a few seconds.....Tony Blair sharing his muesli with David Cameron whilst they decided how to spend the weekly food budget for the house. Imagine George Bush, Hilary Clinton and Rumsfeld coming to an agreement about what time the light was to be turned out in the bedroom.....(oops...take back that thought!) What if we saw them the way we saw George Galloway in 2006? This is the same George Galloway who was heavily criticised for appearing on the show, the same George who made such a memorable, erudite and formidable presention to the US senate (for transcript:http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0517-35.htm). The same George Galloway who never wastes a publicity moment, shouting to the BB audience "stop the war" as he entered the house. When challenged for appearing on BB George said,"I believe that politicians should use every opportunity to communicate with people," he said in a statement. "I'm a great believer in the democratic process. Big Brother is watched by millions." He is correct, Big Brother IS watched by millions - more accurately near 8 million. I am sure there are a lot of people in that 8 million who haven't bothered to vote because politicians are so removed from their lives...this might just start them voting.
This way we would not only have a glimpse of who we are electing but maybe it might get those couch potatoes who can't be bothered to cast a vote in the elections to actually participate in the government of their own country, Big Brother style. (Back to the chorus again Rolf.."oooh it makes me wonder')
Then again, would I want the same people who would bother to vote for such a mind numbing show as Big Brother, to vote for our government? Yes I would. They are the people who live in this country - who are affected by the decisions and besides that ....Oh, who knows, the other lot didnt get it so right so maybe a change of tactics might just be the answer.