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Well, bollocks, bugger and shite.

Most of you, I don't much care what your political views are. That's not what this whole LJ thing is about. I don't hope to persuade you of my point of view or imagine that most of you share it. Our circumstances differ.

I'm interested in your point of view -- unless you're mad as a bag of weasels, in which case I will probably smile and click on. Such is the glory of the back button.

I just don't want to make other people feel bad over something that all of us are so powerless to change, as wussy as that sounds. timesink put all of this better than I could.

I'd like to discuss political subjects, kick 'em around and see if I can understand better (I'll be the one in the raging pinko scum T-shirt), but if you're not up for that, I totally understand.

* * *

When I was a child, during dinners, public holidays, family gatherings, long car rides and other occasions where there was No Escape At All, my parents liked to quarrel.

It was almost recreational, except for the shouting and the misery and the damage wrought unto many, many dishes. Among their top 10 greatest hits was 'my country is better than your country'. My mother is intensely patriotic in an old-school sort of way and my dad knew it annoyed her to pick on that, which was why he did it.

They particularly liked to get into the super-extended megamix of this argument, wherein my dad would vow to go home, and my mum would yell because he'd lived in Britain for decades and had no idea what his natal country was like now. There would then be sneer-laden renditions of Winter Wonderland and Land of Hope and Glory and an argument which includes sarcastic song is seldom going to end well -- outside of the musical theatre, that is.

When it comes to countries, there are things that are okay if you or your countrymen say them, but are guaranteed to rev one's temper from zero to 60 in five seconds if they are said by bloody foreigners.

One's countrymen criticise from a place of love. Bloody foreigners should keep their mouths shut because they don't know what the hell they're talking about.

I've always loved and been fascinated by America. I first stepped foot there when I was seven years old, and spent four months or so sailing around its coast. I wrote my thesis about American foreign policy and did my elective in US government. I've driven around it and lounged about it and any criticisms very much don't come from any kind of kneejerk anti-Americanism or sense that the UK is in any way a superior place to live -- though I prefer it because, well, it's home, as rackity, frustrating and dysfunctional as it is. (And it has the NHS. See "rackity, frustrating and dysfunctional")

And not one bit of that last paragraph matters.

* * *

This November's election is the most important event in the world this year. So very much hangs on it. I am increasingly aware that LJ is a predominantly American space, and I feel I should take account of that in the way that I write.

***warning -- partisan opinion***
I don't think that George W Bush is the right person to lead America into the new century. I think his administration is fatally compromised by its business connections and a hardline rightwing tranche of policies which eschews pragmatism.

It is conservative big government -- an condition afflicting our present government in the UK despite its nominal leftwing affiliation -- which combines the two of the things I most loathe: the kind of government which thinks it can legislate to circumscribe my private life according to its own morals and is intent on spending my money to do it.

I feel that no matter what America decides, Bush is bad for the rest of the world because of his administration's unilateralism, rejection of treaties on global warming and international justice and insistence on backing some poor governments (Ariel Sharon of Israel) and some downright repugnant ones (Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan, who *boils* opponents of his regime)

Any discussions of politics I indulge in will inevitably mean criticising American foreign and domestic policy because I *do not* understand how anyone could think that electing George Bush is the right political decision this autumn, given the circumstances. I can understand the desire to vote Republican but not for this particular Republican administration.

I don't believe American will be safer and it's not as though John Kerry isn't a rightwinger by any objective standard.


It's impossible to talk about it without triggering that queasy defensiveness. I feel the same when people are critical of Britain -- all "what the hell would you know, you don't understand, you don't live here" -- and oftentimes, it's not because I actually disagree with the meat of what people have to say.

It can only be worse when you *do* disagree and you don't want to read something which will only whiten your knuckles and crease your forehead with that "oh, for god's sake" feeling. denyeverything1 put it very well with her rutabaga analogy, if only I knew what the tapdancing Elvis a rutabaga was.

So I had planned to chuck it behind an opt-in filter, out of politeness to those who just don't want to deal with critical commentary on US policy -- or indeed with politics at all.

However, I suppose that is rather like meekly going to the designated dissent area and impotently chanting slogans at your fellow protesters while the motorcade speeds past.

Yes, you were all very persuasive. I'll give the filter the elbow and use cut tags instead. Feel at liberty to unfriend, yadda yadda yadda.

Also, there are some people who answered the question who are not on the reading list and thus would not be on any filter.

Hello, people I don't know! ::waves perkily::

I do tend to mix subjects in posts, so that has to stop. Rather than filtering, I think I will put any political content under a clearly marked cut-tag and in a separate post so it can be safely read or ignored, according to your personal preference on that day, year or decade.

(You olive-loving freaks.)


( 28 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 31st, 2004 07:51 pm (UTC)
Mmmm. Olives.
Sep. 1st, 2004 03:33 pm (UTC)
:::points to your icon, pointedly:::
Sep. 1st, 2004 04:31 pm (UTC)
::sticks tongue out at you::

::eats olive::

Mmmm. (Although, to be fair, I don't like the black ones. Green or Kalamata only, please.)
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 1st, 2004 03:35 pm (UTC)
SEP has translated. Swedes! Mmmm mashed swedes.

I cannot tapdance. I might go see Elvis Patelvis, London's only Indian Elvis impersonator this weekend though, if he's about at Ruby's
Aug. 31st, 2004 08:20 pm (UTC)
(I'll be the one in the raging pinko scum T-shirt)

My original response to you included the note that it was no news to me that you were a card-carrying lefist pinko who would walk across ground glass to kiss Marx's finger tips, but I *knew* that, and that pinko-commie-ness did not define the whole of you, and so long as you didn't go putting milk on your grits we would probably continue to get along fine.

(Ruts are orange-colored root crops - kinda like a cross between a potato and a turnip.)

- hg
Aug. 31st, 2004 11:12 pm (UTC)
And in some places, a rutabaga IS a turnip. I grew up eating rutabagas, which are a vaguely bitter orange root, and calling them turnips. I had to move out west to discover that turnips are smaller, and white/purple, rather than orange/purple. It was quite the shock.

And, um, I feel a little bad about pontificating in your LJ, K, but not too bad since I convinced you. *g*

I feel I should, I dunno, send you chocolate or music or something. Oh, wait. I promised you a song. ::goes to look for it::
Sep. 1st, 2004 03:39 pm (UTC)
Thing is, for where I work I am *ultra*-moderate. About half the office is well to the left of me.

Also, you will never catch me putting milk on my grits because I would rather clean my teeth using eewok piss than eat another grit again. I could extol the marvels of southern US cooking for many hours, but grits? I understand them not. *g*
Aug. 31st, 2004 08:49 pm (UTC)
if only I knew what the tapdancing Elvis a rutabaga was.

All I know is, I won't touch 'em. Bleah.
Aug. 31st, 2004 09:25 pm (UTC)
This November's election is the most important event in the world this year. So very much hangs on it. I am increasingly aware that LJ is a predominantly American space, and I feel I should take account of that in the way that I write.

Well, LJ and other online fora being the only places I really have any interaction with people who aren't American, I've been increasingly fascinated by the extent to which folks from other countries do feel... possessive? Invested? Let's say invested... in US politics. And yes, of course that makes sense, because the US is big and powerful and drives a lot of world events and who gets elected President of the US probably means more to the daily life of your average British citizen than vice versa. But I hadn't had it made quite so clear to me before. It's interesting. (And you're right about the kneejerk reaction, though at least I have the benefit of being left-of-center in American terms, albeit probably not in European ones.)
Aug. 31st, 2004 09:40 pm (UTC)
You're far more polite about him than I am. Congratulations on your forebearance.
Aug. 31st, 2004 10:01 pm (UTC)
You're so darn smart. It's just sexy from where I sit.

I am oddly riled up. I will go play with the new cell phone.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 31st, 2004 11:16 pm (UTC)
> And I know I and probably a bunch of your other Yank friends would find the overseas perspective on our electoral mess fascinating.<

Word. Back when we met, we didn't much talk about politics, as I recall. But after 9/11, I *really* appreciated the insight you brought to the table in discussions about Afghanistan and terrorism. You speak as one with knowledge: you're not just mouthing off.

I'm glad you changed your mind.
Aug. 31st, 2004 11:13 pm (UTC)
(Ruts are orange-colored root crops - kinda like a cross between a potato and a turnip.

Heh. Sounds like a swede, to me!

I tend not to join in political convos regarding other countries governments. I feel too ignorant to make a meaningful contribution. But I also tend not to join in about British politics either, because my basic view of politicians are that you need to be a self interested and promoting, easily corrupted liar to even get your foot on the ladder. Yes, I work in local government.

But I am still interested in reading what others think...

Sep. 1st, 2004 09:08 am (UTC)
Rutabagas ARE swedes.

I saw them in the TESCO clearly labelled swedes, which made me laugh. They are the A-number-one modification to Cornish Pasties in the UP, making them infinitely superior to those found in the UK, at say, the Jamaica Inn, where I was intensely boring on the subject.

Next time anybody who is interested is around I will make pasties that will make everybody truly understand the hymn to them in Neil Gaiman's "American Gods." Oh yes. I have Grandma Rowe's recipe after all, but I promise to not actually use suet.

Sep. 1st, 2004 09:45 am (UTC)
huh. Talked to Mom last night and she said swedes are turnips.

Maybe she's confused. She is 74 and hasn't lived over there since 1955, after all.
Sep. 1st, 2004 10:03 am (UTC)
Lots of people think Rutabegas are turnips.

I SAW them with my own little eyes. At the TESCO, while shopping with this LJ's owner. Marked swedes with a little sign.

So I'm assuming the TESCO produce people know what they're doing.
Sep. 1st, 2004 03:41 pm (UTC)
I think we spoke about this once before, didn't we? I think that you're right about them being self-serving and possibly even corrupt but I don't think it's true of all people who go into politics.

Local government often seems to be about the worst though.
Sep. 1st, 2004 03:51 pm (UTC)
It might not be true of them when they start out, but I believe totally in the old saying "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely".

And yes, local government is worse, because local politicians are even more petty and image conscious than the big fish. And often totally incompetent and in charge of budgets worth £m because they sucked up enough to the leader of the group. Not because they have the remotest idea of what they are doing.

Jaundiced viewpoint? Moi???
Aug. 31st, 2004 11:13 pm (UTC)
One of the things that I enjoyed most about living in Europe - beyond the obvious stuff - was the chance to see the States from a different point of view. So I got both the Guardian & the Economist...So, whatever you do, I'd really like to keep on getting your political posts. I'll comment where I feel like I've got something to say but your perspective is always interesting...
Sep. 1st, 2004 03:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you.

I get my news from The Economist a lot. And you should always read The Guardian *g*
Sep. 1st, 2004 12:15 am (UTC)
I feel that no matter what America decides, Bush is bad for the rest of the world

Understatement of the Decade, I think you'll find...

It's your Journal, you say what you want, and it doesn't matter, you know. I like reading political opinion, pretty much because I'm unable of forming a coherent stance of my own. Needless to say, you keep talking, I think you'd be surprised just howm amny peole are listening with interest and in agreement.
Sep. 1st, 2004 03:54 am (UTC)
Rutabagas bad. Olives goooooooood.

"Mad as a bag of weasels." I'll have to use that phrase at some point today.
Sep. 1st, 2004 09:09 am (UTC)
You will be drummed out of Watersmeet for talk like that!!!!

No Nimrods basketball for YOU!

Sep. 1st, 2004 03:43 pm (UTC)
You don't want to know how long it took me to work out that your icon was olives. Thicky McThickpants could've worked it out more quickly.
Sep. 1st, 2004 04:50 pm (UTC)
denyeverything1 *animated* it. It's really something to see.
Sep. 2nd, 2004 03:36 am (UTC)
I saw that. It disturbed me. It was too reminiscent of small disease-causing things writhing on a slide
Sep. 1st, 2004 08:44 am (UTC)
It's impossible to talk about it without triggering that queasy defensiveness

Perhaps I am unpatriotic, but I'm not feeling in the least defensive. Honestly, I think if you were completely open and not tactful in stating your opinions, I still don't think you could come up with anything that is worse than what I think about the current administration and certain subcultures of my own country. In fact, I think it would be an interesting challenge to see if you *could* come up with a criticism that (a) you honestly believe, and (b) would get my back up.
Sep. 1st, 2004 09:07 am (UTC)
Two cents.
Since I am forcing myself to watch the Republican Convention and have many opinions I won't share here (for more up to date coverage go to mamahippierwc)I believe we should be listening to popular opinion from not only Americans but the world. There is nothing wrong with weighing pros and cons. America got a wake up call and how we dealt with it I believe was idiotic. By ignoring the direct threat and going after one on their grand agenda. Our government is waving a carrot in front of us and trying to push it's own agenda while we are distracted.

A good majority believe we are so protected by the American long arm. Which is why we are horrible when visiting other countries because we assume that there laws don't apply to us Once you leave U.S. soil, U.S. laws and constitutional rights no longer apply! This is not all Americans and there are a lot of us who believe Bush is wrong on so many levels. The problem are our undecided and middle of the road people. The ones who just don't care. That is who both sides want to get. It's scary but I am trying to be optimistic.
( 28 comments — Leave a comment )

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