I am fascinated by American politics. Not only because what happens there has such a huge effect on the rest of the world but because, for some reason, the way they conduct themselves just seems that more interesting over here. I mean, really, who listens of tenderhooks for what David Cameron has to say?
When elections are around I am obsessed by sites like Electoral Vote that do averages and summaries of polling data. I find myself wondering why such a thing doesn’t happen here.
Recently I saw this chart of opinions of the current Presidential candidates. There is also, presumably using that chart, a site that allows you to answer a set of questions in order to be told who to vote for. Again, I found myself wondering why, in a country that created TheyWorkForYou why such things don’t exist here.
I have come to the, rather obvious, conclusion. The vast majority of people who do vote, which in itself is a minority – even amongst people I know personally, don’t think that the personal opinions of their MPs matters a damn. Almost everyone votes on party basis – to get the leader and government they want in power. I know of one or two people who check out the candidate MPs but they are in an extremely small minority. Why is this so different compared to the USA? Partially I think it is because we lack the so-called “value voters”, partially because MPs opinions on things tends to be broadly similar across parties but mostly I think it is simply a matter of scale. If you are a United States Senator you are potentially in charge of millions of people and a vast budget. If you are a British MP the scale is quite different. In fact some Senators probably rule, in effect, an area with more people and greater wealth the the Prime Minister.
When you look at it that way it’s no wonder comparitively few people are motivated to care about what their MPs think.