The Campaign That Wasn't

This column, which aims to summarize the campaign, includes a earth-shaking revelation: If we look closely at the composition of the outgoing Knesset and its factions, and compare it to the composition of the next Knesset based on recent polls, the obvious conclusion is that nothing has happened. What was is more or less what will be.

After all the bangs, both big and small, and if we summarize the connections and disconnections, we get the same political-parliamentary picture with only the smallest differences. We have analyzed, explained, interpreted, sampled and polled, extolled and buried, raised with praise and damned with faint praise - and the situation has reverted to its previous state.

This was the campaign that wasn't. I find it fascinating to contemplate what would have happened in practice if no campaign had been conducted, what the results would have been without all the hullabaloo and PR. It is, of course, impossible to prove, but the ever-strengthening impression is that the 17th Knesset would have followed in the footsteps of the 16th Knesset, mimicked it, the second created in the image of the first.

Here is a little circumstantial evidence of the status quo hanging over us like a curse. The "Russian vote", for instance: Many a quill pen were worn out after the last elections in erudite writings on how it lost its shine. The Russian vote, so it was written, had integrated into the general national chorus; immigrants from the former Soviet Union were well-ensconced in their new home and were swallowed up by its inhabitants.

This distinction was strengthened after Natan Sharansky's Yisrael B'Aliyah was swallowed whole by Likud like Jonah in the belly of the great fish. And here we are, no Russian bears and no Ukrainian forest and no nonsense. The Russian voice is clear as a bell and Avigdor Lieberman is counting on it, counting on it and being counted.

Or the "Arab vote:" How many times have we heard about the "Arab street's" disappointment with its parties. Charges and responses of the Arab Knesset members' hedonism, alienation from the day-to-day problems of the constituency, which, unlike its elected officials, is more interested in its children's education and the local sewer system, and less in the "Palestinian problem."

Stuff and nonsense. Despite predictions, the Arab parties again collect their share of the vote, which they may have lost over the years, and has been found again for the umpteenth time. The "Arab vote" like the "Russian vote" is restored to its proper status.

The rest of the parties also return to their "natural size", as does the projected proportion between the three blocs - the right bloc, the left bloc and the religious-ultra-Orthodox bloc. Even little Meretz, after a few slight spasms of shrinking and expanding, chalks up its six Knesset seats. And what was considered a failure three years ago will be considered a success now, and be welcomed with a sigh of relief.

I add the seats up for myself, according to the polls, and have difficulty identifying the real differences, except for a minor amplification of the national right that could be revealed as soon as tomorrow as major.

Will someone become the "scale tipper?" And if so, the smallest difference will become a large one, heaven forbid.

Only Kadima is a new phenomenon, which changes the picture somewhat - but only allegedly.

What is Kadima if not Shinui's 15 seats, give or take, in addition to the huge surplus that Ariel Sharon got in 2003, that he won personally and never organically belonged to Likud.

Likud therefore returns to its hard core of 15-20 seats - exactly the core that supported Netanyahu in 1999. And Labor will apparently make do with its share of 17-22 seats - and here to there is nothing new. So what is new?

A funny thing happened to this campaign on its long way to the forum: Reality was dramatic and interesting.

What hasn't happened here in the past few months - while the campaign was really shallow, boring and dull. Reality was on one track, while the campaign was on a parallel track, and two parallel lines, of course, never meet.

The apathy and the apathetic are being loudly denounced these days, and called upon to return to their long-time ways - the way of the election day barbecue or the way of the blank ballot. Who hasn't worn the severe countenance of the civics teacher and urged the complacent to exercise their right to vote.

This column joins its voice to that shout: Wake ye apathetic, stand up and dispatch your lack of care. And along with the agitated and vigorous cry, I add: Hooray for the disinterest and lack of enthusiasm; bravo to the low expectations and withering hopes.

Many politicians have worked hard to earn bitter public disappointment, and the public is inoculating itself against the coming disappointment and frustration.

I applaud those now playing "hard to get" - well done; you are ensuring that in future terms, we will expect the worst, and if anything good surprises us, it will be our net gain. The lower expectations, the more pleasant the surprise, and all thanks to the apathetic, who set such low thresholds for our daydreams.

Go to the polls, without a doubt, there is no alternative. But feel no guilt, despite the scoldings, if you go forth weeping.