Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Rambling return post

So I've been a bit slack with this. Here's some scribble.

I was thinking about politics and came up with some thoughts. We have a de facto two party system in this country due to the relative dominance of the Tories and Labour, but have a decent sized third party in the shape of the Lib Dems. The next election could be close enough for a coalition, which in my opinion would be a good thing - Labour's dafter excesses of late need reigning in and the Tories could do with someone to provide some kind of genuine support for the underprivileged.

Which led to me thinking about the American system. That seems to be set up for a two party system and nothing more, from every bit of political analysis I've seen. Other parties do exist but they're marginal.

The Democrats therefore seem to pick up a lot of people who would otherwise have joined another party, which goes some way to explaining their general lack of unity and infighting - they seem to be a coalition of loose common interest with various factions within it. The Republicans are much more homogeneous, and from the outside world appear to represent the bits of American culture that the rest of the world finds so objectionable - far-right Christian fundamentalism, guns, intolerance, warmongering, and the worst excesses of free market capitalism. I think part of the reason they are so successful even amongst Americans who aren't that right-wing is because people know exactly what they stand for, or at least what they think they stand for, whilst the Democrats are a bit more vague. In a country that deals in black and white, vague isn't the way to get voters onside. The Republican machine is set up to attack this vagueness, forcing the Democrats onto the back foot. Even when they have what looks like a cast iron policy to the rest of the world, i.e. Obama's heath care plan, the Republicans can manage to cast doubt on the whole thing by looking for the bits left to assumption and making false assertions, they using their friends in the media to spout nonsense about Obama being some kind of liberal socialist. The concept of calling Obama liberal or a socialist is hilarious to Europeans, most of whom have at least one large socialist party and actually understand what it means. If Obama is a socialist you might as well call Tony Blair a communist.

Much like American, Britain has developed a culture where people complain about government interference in their lives, then complain when the government isn't doing enough. It's exactly this attitude which caused the culture of spin to develop - there has to be a soundbite for everything or else the media has nothing to report, therefore 'the government isn't doing anything'. This part of the reason is why the Labour party, despite having done many decent things during their time in power, are in the shit. People no longer believe any of the 'good news' soundbites, even if they're true, and assume spin and lies at all times. 13 years will do that - no one believed anything the Major government said by the end of the Tories epic reign prior to Labour taking power.

There are many things in the American system we could adopt, like elected judges and officials in charge of public services at a local level. This would reduce the disengagement from politics that many people feel, and accusations of 'cronyism' and the like, and would hopefully reduce complacency and some of the more ridiculous decisions judges make. The drawback is the possibility of people electing reactionary idiots as opposed to the posh codgers we have at the moment, but it would make sense to have some people who have experienced real life in the legal system. This is put much better in Jonathan Freedland's book 'Bringing Home The Revolution

I'm a bit torn on this as I fear the people who would get involved might not be the kind of people I'd want involved. I'm not thinking of Homer Simpson taking over the bins. I'm thinking about the likes of the BNP getting small positions of power in this way, adding to their legitimacy. Although presumably they'd fuck it up and get voted out the next time as they seem to be a bunch of blaggers with no real policies.

In short I don't really know, I'm just another blogger, although not one with enough time on his hands to finish writing a cohesive article that doesn't have logic jumps and unfinished points. No system is perfect. It could be a lot worse. Our systems get a lot of scrutiny because we have the freedom to do so. Some aren't so lucky.

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