If the post-Brexit disagreeableness taught us anything, it was that the last three weeks of a campaign are crucial. People believe the lies they are told in that period, and victory goes to whichever candidate paints a bigger number on the side of a bus. Yeah, right. Politics is as ridiculous as it is ubiquitous. Things can only get better, remember? We may vote according to our own idiosyncratic criteria, but we're not fools. Every significant vote of the recent past - Brexit, Trump, Macron - has been a vote against a political establishment. Politicians don't seem able to touch us any more, with their predictable arguments and their soundbites and their contrived campaign phrases - not deep down where we decide which way to vote.
Democracy is not an exercise in getting to "the right answer". Democracy is an exercise in granting everybody the right to be consulted - and then, crucially, in giving them the feeling that they have been consulted. Democracy requires consent to the proposition: we voted, so we accept the result. Today, we seem to have something else - democracy-as-process, performance democracy, in which one side of the media-training seminar needles the other for a quote to put at the top of the next news bulletin. With or without conscious bias, everything we see and hear is mediated. And this brings out the worst aspects of a democratic election, making it more of a contest, giving the participants an incentive to over-emphasise what's at stake.
Overlooked throughout - by the politicians and the interviewers and the pollsters, but not, I suspect, by the electorate - is the simple fact that the future is unknowable. Life goes on. No surprise, I think, that the effort to engage us in the day-to-day contest gets a diminishing return; no surprise that we vote for our own reasons rather than those placed before us on the screen. No surprise at all, really, that we vote against the political (media-political?) establishment. Voting - as distinct from democracy - is an exercise in picking somebody to manage the ongoing, fluctuating, imperfect, challenging reality of day-to-day life - not some dreamed-up set of media-friendly but shallow causes. On-screen people are talking about tactical voting, in exactly the same way that they talked about it last time. Actually, they're talking about everything in exactly the same way ... zzz.
The sun came up this morning, after a wet day yesterday, and the air is clear. While the parties and the talking heads debate finite policies to fix clearly defined issues, as though such fixes and issues are not themselves transient, the rest of us look towards an uncertain future, and make up our own minds. The last lines of Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby talk about an unreachable ideal future and don't exactly fit here, but today's political noise will recede with us, and the political issues of today will all be forgotten, as we are borne back ceaselessly into the past.