In Defence Of Democracy From Sneering Media Types…

Outside the liberal echo chamber that sees peril in almost anything hoving in from the right, here’s a considered note of sanity from Jeremy Paxman:

“I don’t like these media class sneerings about Trump,” Paxman said. “I don’t share his politics on many things, but he was elected on that cockamamie system that they’ve got. He was elected president. And we should respect that.”

Responding to a question from the audience about whether his views on Trump had changed since presenting the Panorama special 100 Days of Trump, Paxman said: “In some respects, he has done rather better than many people had expected.” Paxman was on stage with the comedian Marcus Brigstocke, who laughed at that comment. Paxman retorted: “Well, it won’t satisfy you sneery media types.”

Paxman said he strongly believed people have to vote “to be able to express an opinion” about politics. “The extraordinary thing is the number of people who talk about this being an abomination who didn’t bother to vote,” he said, referring to Trump’s election in November. “Of course, Hilary Clinton was a terrible candidate, but the fact of not voting disqualifies you, or it seems to me ought to disenfranchise you from passing any comment at all.”

Paxman, who once upbraided Russell Brand for not voting because he “can’t be arsed”, said he would make sure to cast his ballot in the general election on 8 June – despite living “in an era of pretty stunted politicians”.

“There have been elections I haven’t voted in,” Paxman told the Hay audience. “The last time I didn’t vote, I was quite comfortable with my decision until about 7 ’o clock at night when I was at work and it was too late to do anything about it. And I felt more and more uncomfortable.
“We’re not given a great choice. But in the end, making decisions is very difficult. To be forced to make a decision every few years in order to put someone there who will make your decisions for you seems not to be a bad thing to do.”

  • Karl

    Democracy as a way to govern a country is indefensible until you think of the alternatives. Having said that there have to be better ways. The electoral system in the US was established 200 years ago. It cant be argued that it is the best system for a country of 360 million people with thousands of cultures in this say and age. Changing it though is stopped by a political elite with vested interests.
    I am prepared to put forward myself as their enlightened monarch. Long live the King. Uh huh.

  • Felicity Huston

    My politics professor recommended dictatorship tempered with assassination as the most effective form of government

  • Karl

    Come the revolution, he would be first against the wall. I wouldnt be having people with thoughts and ideas just walking around handing them out willy nilly.

    I may not be enlightened as first thought.

  • Reader

    Felicity Huston: My politics professor recommended dictatorship tempered with assassination as the most effective form of government
    Then the dictators devise methods to protect themselves from assassination – e.g. secret police, torture chambers, eliminating dissent and any possible rivals. The first year is the best, it’s downhill from there. You don’t get Havelock Vetinari, you get Saddam.

  • tim plum

    I did vote. He is an abomination. I constantly nudge the non-voter and ask them is this the choice they really wanted? In this system he was elected by a minority of voters and only through the electoral college. I think his tumbling popularity in polls shows the disdain we have for him. His base remains strong and I contend that will happen until their healthcare and gov’t benefits are gutted. People only pay attention, finally when it hits home.

  • ted hagan

    Paxman was pretty woeful in his ‘grilling’ of May and Corbyn last night.
    He sounds like a man who is bored with life and who is, in turn, boring.

  • notimetoshine

    The problem with democracy is the stupidity of the electorate, fumbling around for easy solutions to ever more complex problems; mired in a pit of tabloids, soundbites, shiny promises, ideological sharks and their own complacency.
    This makes electorates easy prey for ideological warriors pushing their zero sum solutions to the complex problems facing societies, sacrificing practicality and reason at the altar of their chosen ideological poison.

    Then of course you have the media. Look at the most popular papers in the UK. The Sun, Mail, Mirror, Express and the Star. Media outlets which appeal to the baser instincts of the public, full of outrage and demands, hyperbole and hysteria with little of any substance or analysis. One could be more understanding if there weren’t better alternatives available, but the UK has four quality broadsheets providing reasoned and in depth analysis whether you chose the Times, Guardian, Telegraph or the Independent. But no the tabloid dross and the faux respectability of the Mail and Express in particular are more than enough for the lumpen masses clamouring for their next idol and next scape goat.

    Paxman demands respect for the electorate, however stupid their decision. These days the opinion of everyone must be respected and given credence no matter how bizarre. But then why should we expect anything more of the electorate, I am always reminded of that HL Mencken quote

    “No one in this world, so far as I know – and I have searched the records for years, and employed agents to help me – has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people.”

  • Jag

    I agree with Paxman.

    Trump is not some cartoon nincompoop as he portrayed by the media.

    What do you think Trump did today? Woke up, showered, talk to his wife about the housekeeping, turned on Fox news, sent out a couple of tweets, played a round of pitch and putt, half hour in the solarium, and is now sitting down to lunch? That’s probably what the media would have you believe.

    In reality, probably took around 100 telephone calls, had about 10 briefings, made around 50 decisions from hiring/firing to policy to press. This is not the Trump portrayed in the media. Does the media never scratch its head and wonder how he built businesses, created a family, won the presidency?

  • Karl

    You might have had a point worth some consideration if the world hadnt seen him act like a 4 year old on his recent trip to Europe. To not even have the self awareness that his actions would not be received well and to get Merkel to declare a sea change in US European relations within 24 hours of meeting him and leaking how angry May was at being leaked. The mind boggles. Sometimes stupid really is just stupid.

  • Zorin001

    Never mind the continued mire his administration is in re: Russia. You usually have to wait a good 4-6 years for an administration to get itself into a constitutional crisis like this one; if there is one thing you can say for Trump he believes in “go hard or go home”

  • Brendan Heading

    In reality, probably took around 100 telephone calls, had about 10 briefings, made around 50 decisions from hiring/firing to policy to press. This is not the Trump portrayed in the media. Does the media never scratch its head and wonder how he built businesses, created a family, won the presidency?

    So you’re starting a sentence with “probably”, holding your completely unsubstantiated speculation up as fact – and then criticising the media for inventing things ? Are you for real ?

    There is nothing whatsoever to substantiate the notion that Trump has any idea what he is doing or that he is in any way capable as a manager or politician. There’s a stack of evidence to the contrary. Doesn’t that outrank “probably” ?

  • doopa

    So we’re ok with Paxman not voting cos… what exactly?

    But how dare Russell Brand suggest that it was a waste of time?

    And more importantly we’re also ok with Paxman berating Brand for not doing something which he also doesn’t do all the time? So is hypocrisy also ok?

  • Brian O’Neill

    “According to the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service, the White House has announced nominees for just 117 of the 559 most important Senate-confirmed positions.”

    http://www.politico.com/story/2017/05/31/russia-investigation-trump-appointees-238954

    He is so efficient it seems he thinks he can run the entire US government.

  • Jag

    Aye Brendan, and Jeremy Corbyn, what did he do this morning? Got up, not a shower day, bread and dripping for breakfast, conference call with Kim Jung-un, Maduro, Castro, go to sums class with Diane Abbott, bike ride to the shop for the Guardian?

    Dead on. He’s a cartoon Marxist. Just like Trump is a cartoon nincompoop.