Ok, so I normally try and steer clear of anything controversial, confrontational or even vaguely opinionated in the hope that I won’t offend or upset anybody. (well, on the blog anyway – my Twitter feed is currently a steady stream of spite). You know what? I’m actually an incredibly opinionated person and I’m getting a bit tired of glossing over my real feelings in order to stay professional. I don’t always want to play nice. Sometimes, just sometimes, I want to have a really good rant.
You might have heard (unless you’ve been living in a bubble) that there was recently a large election in America. Earlier this year, this was an important vote in the UK. Both elections caused a lot of tension and friction with strong feelings on all sides. Both results where questionable (some might even say objectionable) and I certainly wasn’t happy with either outcome.
Now, whichever way you voted, you’d have to admit that both elections have distinct similarities and there was considerable backlash after each of them. As I scanned Twitter, Facebook and talked to people face to face I began to hear the same old cliches and platitudes. I’ve worked up a list of things you ABSOLUTELY SHOULD NOT say to me after an election result.
1. You should respect other people’s opinions.
Let’s get this one right out of the way, shall we? While I absolutely respect your right to HAVE an opinion I certainly don’t have to respect the opinion itself. I’m sure in 75% of circumstances I would, but there will be some people who have opinions so ridiculous or offensive that respect is impossible. A person on Twitter expressed this far better than I ever could so I’m going to hand over to her now:
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Please stop telling people to respect others' opinions. That's for things like "I don't like coffee" not for "I don't like black people."</p>— Xannie Woodard (@XannieW) <a href=”https://twitter.com/XannieW/status/796383910691151872″>November 9, 2016</a></blockquote>
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2. You shouldn’t call people “stupid” because their vote was different to yours.
Firstly, allow me to refer you back to point 1. If you have the right to have your opinion, I certainly reserve the right to consider it stupid. And say so whenever I am asked. Secondly, this is going to depend greatly on WHY you voted the way you did or what you were voting for.
If, after reasoned and lengthy debate and research you choose a path different to mine, well ok then. I can live with that. I might not agree with your reasoning and arguments, but at least you’ve given the matter some thought. It’s ok to reach a different conclusion.
If, however, you vote on a really big important issue because a real-life Spitting Image puppet told you that £350,000,000 would magically materialise and save the NHS (even though all experts said it wouldn’t), then I’m going to think you’re a bit daft. Especially when said marionette admits it was a load of bull crap less than 12 hours after the vote closes!
Likewise, if you think a man who can’t be trusted with his own Twitter account should be given access to the nuclear codes of one of the most powerful countries in the world, I feel completely justified in coming out and calling you an idiot.
Besides which, calling people who voted that way “Stupid” is, in fact, a kindness. Maybe they were genuinely ignorant of the facts, maybe they were manipulated by the sensationalist right-wing tabloids. That would be forgivable – understandable even.
If however, they were in full possession of the facts and knew that, for example, the man they wanted to be president was a suspected Paedophile who boasted about sexually assaulting women and wanted to evict all Muslims from a country, well – that would just be disturbing. So let’s continue to say they were stupid – the alternative is far worse.
3. That’s how democracy works – would you prefer a dictatorship?
You literally wouldn’t believe how many people say this to me and I have to bite my tongue from screaming “OF COURSE I DON’T F**KING WANT A DICTATORSHIP”. I realise that dictatorships are awful and to be avoided, but just because one system is terrible doesn’t mean ours is perfect.
Democracy means (according to the gospel that is Wikipedia) the “rule of the commoners…,a system of government in which the citizens exercise power directly or elect representatives from among themselves to form a governing body” It’s designed to let the majority decide, but recent events have shown that this isn’t always the case. If the President of the US was decided by number of votes alone, we would be about to welcome “Madam President”. Instead, due to the distribution of the votes, she had to concede. Is that fair democracy? Maybe, maybe not but it’s legal and binding!
Not to mention the fact that just because something is a popular decision, doesn’t mean it’s always the right one. I only have to watch Britain’s Got Talent to see why the Great British public shouldn’t be allowed to vote on anything. If there was a referendum on all major law changes I’d think we could say bye-bye to same-sex marriage and hello again to capital punishment.
So while our system is certainly preferable to others, it is not without flaws. We should be constantly striving to improve it, not just making do. Of course, it’s very unlikely that any acting government would want to change the system. That’s how they got into power in the first place, isn’t it?
4. Why are you so upset? It’s really not that important.
ARRRRRGGGGH, seriously this one makes my blood boil. Yes! Deciding to take a mahoosive blind leap with our economy and future is important. Yes! Choosing the new leader of the free world is important! If you don’t think it’s important you probably haven’t grasped exactly what we’re talking about here. This is not the X-Factor final – this our lives you’re playing Russian Roulette with.
5. Don’t abuse people who chose to use a protest vote.
Ok, so if when choosing between Tory and Labour, you just can’t decide then go ahead and vote Green, or Independent if it makes you feel better. The result will no doubt be the same, but at least you’ll feel some bizarre pride at sticking it to the man (not that he cares – your useless protest vote is completely inconsequential).
However, if when having a temper tantrum, you throw your vote away on a dead gorilla, instead of making an informed choice, then I have no patience with you. Your vote is important, your voice is important (even if you do support a xenophobic sociopath) and you should use it bloody responsibly. Let’s hope your amusement at voting for Beyonce gives you some comfort over the next four years of turmoil and uncertainty.
6. It’s not the end of the world. We’ll survive this like we have everything else.
Breathe, Stacey, just breathe.
Seriously, this is my favourite. We got A LOT of this after Brexit. Everyone was getting all nostalgic and juicy over the ole’ British Blitz spirit. “Oh, we’ve struggled through far worse – we can get through this.”
What a ridiculous flipping argument! You’re absolutely right, we have survived some pretty terrible stuff. World wars, recessions, disease – we battled through. However just because we CAN survive hardship doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be doing everything we can to AVOID it! I’ve lived through some shitty low-points and I’m proud of myself, but I certainly won’t be trying to relive the experience just to prove I’m a tough cookie.
Oh, and come and talk to me about the end of the world if our new Commander-In-Chief gets a little trigger-happy with his new nuclear play-things!
Ok, rant over. For now. In all seriousness, I hope that both of these situations surprise me. I hope Brexit doesn’t leave our economy in tatters and me paying three times as much for a block of Camembert! (If France even still want to play with us after we dumped them so savagely). I hope the President Elect Trump is not the Bond Villain we all think he is and manages to bring about positive change. (That doesn’t involve a Mexican structure you can see from space!).
I hope for our sake that the voters on the opposite team were right, and I was wrong. If not, at least I’ll be able to stand in the wreckage and say “I told you so”. Small pleasures, and all that.