Democracy my arse: A Letter to My Girl

Dear Daughter

In the wake of an inflated reality-TV tangerine being elected to the highest political office on Earth, parents everywhere are feverishly taking to the quill to wax lyrical to their off-spring in an attempt to explain What It All Means.

Since I’m intent on getting through this parenting lark with a dodgy combo of winging it, and occasionally copying other parents’ homework, I’m now going to impart some solemn lessons. That’s right – I’m about to impose unsolicited thoughts on you for future reference. Like you need any more. Fear not, there’s a strong possibility I’ll have figured out the nuclear codes for this blog by the time you stumble on it in my internet history along with questionable dream meaning searches.  So long as I get to unpick a few self-satisfied thoughts aloud to myself, that’s really all that matters.

Overall, I would say the single most important insight gained in the aftermath of the election is a reminder of the power of music as a salve for the soul. When all about you are losing their heads, and your mental microwave has lost its defrosting function, there is surety to be found in the right melody and brevity of word.

I know this is all too much to take on just now. But, one day, when Breda O’Brien’s daughter has been elected Taoiseach, or Gerry Adams has been voted Sinn Fein leader for the 47th time at a tender age of 97, you’ll understand. You’ll finally realise why I spent all this week force-feeding you Bjork on YouTube, and threatening the non-violent atmosphere of the house with indulgent Jeff Buckley-offs with myself. I’m assuming you remain intimately acquainted with the complete oeuvre of Ani DiFranco or I really will have failed spectacularly at child-rearing.

Speaking of guided democracy, is there any other kind? In the olden days, like today *pipe lip-smacks*, columnists and hand-wringers remained divided over the prospect of a toddler taking up tenure in the White House, but all agreed the appointment was ultimately a consequence of democracy.

This is just a more respectable refusal to admit they’re not as clever as they think they are. Unlike me, who is always right, and Suspected All Along that the election was an act of sheer recklessness than of democracy. I know – I should have my own radio show to shout at.

As residents of Norn Iron, we know all about democracy. We’re governed by a power-sharing executive with a party that has the same leadership in place since the 1970s. Since James Callaghan was PM, Margaret Thatcher was leader of the opposition, Jimmy Carter was President and Jack Lynch was Taoiseach. That is a longevity that does not happen in democratic politics. But we the people are free to choose between it or the threat of conflict. That’s democracy.

As daughters of the Irish Republic, our bodies are governed by a constitution designed by patriarchal institutions buoyed up on moral absolutes.  That is a reality that doesn’t happen in democratic politics. We the people, might one day be free to choose between it and democracy.  That’s democracy.

As voters against Brexit, even we knew we were struggling to answer a question that wasn’t being asked sincerely. That is an act of grotesque irresponsibility that doesn’t belong in democratic politics. But that’s democracy.

When an electorate is invited to choose between two self-serving business elites (with or without a vagina) chosen to prop up the interests of their respective elite party members, they are expected to balance the interests of everyone. So when the small man who flips the burger votes one way, he will be crucified for turning on the man making the patties who voted the other. That’s democracy.

Love

Ma

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