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.)