As the first week of campaigning comes to a close, the hacks are sharpening their pencils. In the coming hours, as we sink a few Friday pints or settle down in front of the Late Late, the Saturday editions of the newspapers- fatter than normal because we have more time to read at the weekend- will be put to bed.
The Sundays will have been working hard all week to reverse the spin, to find the new angle or an interesting voice to present to you. These are few and far between, not least at election time when the flow of communication is strictly controlled.
But one thing is for sure- the spin doctors and the campaign managers won’t be taking any breaks this weekend. They will be working around the clock, watching, listening, poking and probing in the ether, trying to make sure that it’s their version of the truth that is on the front pages, and no-one else’s.
In short, they will dedicate their weekend- and every waking hour until all the votes are cast- perpetuating the biggest lie of all; that those running for election are in some way better or more qualified than you or I to run the country. Except in very limited circumstances, they aren’t. Indeed, some of them are downright dangerous.
The proof of this should be fairly obvious- a country on its knees, that would still be up to its neck in debt even if it was standing on a stepladder. A health service that is a laughing stock. A whip system that neuters the voter the moment the polling station closes. An opposition and a Seanad so toothless as to have rendered themselves irrelevant. A political class in a class all its own- career politicians concerned not with the good of the country, but in their own survival. No matter what it says on the poster on the lamp-post in front of your house, they are all running for Mé Féin.
They know shockingly little about economics. They know less about about the culture of addiction and abuse of both substances and people that causes so much social misery and petty crime. They know next to nothing about education, and just because they have been children themselves doesn’t mean that they know anything about how to teach them or care for them. These are the people to which we are entrusting the future of our country.
But they and their spin doctors won’t let that stop them- this weekend, they will try to put meat on their scrawny bones, using interviews and features to portray themselves as statesmanlike and knowledgeable and competent. Some will try to convince you that what happened in government occurred when they were out of the room, or that they were powerless to stop it. To a greater or lesser extent, they will be lying.
It’s said that the bigger the lie, the more people will believe it, but Irish people don’t- or shouldn’t- believe the biggest lie of them all anymore. We know our leaders have feet of clay. We know there are no quick fixes. We know that the road back will be long, hard, and hopefully littered with the political corpses of those who led us here.
We know that “I don’t know” is a valid response, and that no-one has all the answers. But those telling you the biggest lie of all still too busy trying to dictate the questions to realise that.