Monday, June 27, 2016

Interesting Times

They say you should never discuss religion or politics if you want to avoid a fight. I am a Christian who has only recently become interested in politics and, to be honest, I couldn't think of anything else to talk about, So, here goes.

My interest in politics only really began a few months ago. Prior to this I always voted for the person or party I thought would do the best job, but generally ignored the stuff going on behind the scenes.

Sure, I knew that the UK Torie party is "conservative" and the Labour party "socialist", and I knew that a person's political views could be plotted on a swinging scale between Left and Right, but that was about it.

If you had asked me the difference between the Democrats and Republicans I would have just shrugged. I knew one was Left and the other Right, but I had no idea which. And the GOP? No clue.

Then Trump arrived on the scene.

Suddenly I found politics interesting. I wanted to know why one man could generate so much animosity both within and without his own party. I started reading up on the differences between the Left and Right, and between Democrats and Republicans. I bookmarked a few politically-inclined blogs and did research on the political leanings of major UK newspapers, selecting one from each side of the center to get a view from both perspectives.

What was interesting was to see how much friction there exists between the two sides, even close the center. I would expect this from the extremes but not from the moderates. What was really intriguing was that, once I identified my own position, I found myself becoming increasingly prickly when reading comments from my "opponents". Ignorance, they say, is bliss. After spending most of my life observing politics from the outside, I suddenly found myself with an opinion.

What was also interesting was to realize that my political leanings have changed through the years. As a young agnostic, I was definitely quite far to the Left. Like many young non-believers I hated rules, thought I knew everything, and believed everyone's morality was equally valid so long as they felt the same way about about my morality. Then, as I grew older and raised a family, these things shifted. I started to appreciate the value of rules, got that I did not know nearly as much as I thought I did, and (especially after becoming a Christian) came to understand that everyone having their own moral standards does not work nearly as well as people say it does. I had, I discovered, swung from the Left to the Right.

Not that I am alone in this political migration. According to the statistics, there is a general move from Left to Right with advancing age. There is also a tendency for Christians to be right-wing and atheists left-wing. Last night I had a chat with my daughter and we discussed the Brexit referendum. During the conversation I realized that my daughter, although Christian, tends towards the Left in many of her views. I had the TV on in the background and a CNN reporter was firing emotionally-charged questions at a very calm Brexit supporter while, behind them, Remain campaigners were protesting loudly over the results of the referendum and demanding the the whole thing be run again. Best of three anyone? How about best of five? CNN, I have learned, is strongly biased towards the Left and is referred to by some as the "Clinton News Network". This explains something I had noticed but could not explain: how Donald Trump is always shown in a bad light and Hillary Clinton invariably pandered to.

Meanwhile, my daughter and I had a civilized discussion over Brexit and the future of the European Union, as well as the curious success of Donald Trump. I now have a better idea as to why the Democrats and Republics both have problems with him, and I can only wonder what would happen if he made it all the way to the White House, but I thank him for sparking my interest in politics. He is no politician, and perhaps that is why he is so popular. You have probably heard the old joke of being able to tell when a politician is lying*. And I challenge anyone to locate a news clip showing a professional politician replying to a direct yes-or-no question with a yes or no.

Perhaps people are sick of feeling misled by the people who are supposed to represent them. Trump may not be pretty but you get what you see. It's the same with the European Union question. Many people in the UK feel that the European parliament is a distant monolith with little interest in the lives of the people it is supposed to represent. Getting out may be uncomfortable but at least we will be free to steer our own ship in future.

The British were evenly split between staying in Europe and leaving. We voted to leave. The people in the US appear to be roughly evenly split between Trump and Clinton. The media favors Clinton, but then they also predicted Britain remaining in Europe.

We live in interesting times.

*his lips are moving


  1. Interesting indeed. I have sympathy with the Brexit crowd who felt their lives were being dictated by a distant, non-representative bureaucracy, but I don't know if I'd have had the courage to vote "leave." I know what divorce is like, so untangling the UK from the EU will be a monumental task. I guess the world just has to wait and see how it works out.

  2. I'm hoping we Americans learn from you. There are no do-overs in an election. If we elect Trump, we will be stuck with him.

  3. Like you, my interest in politics was minimal until Trump arrived on the scene. I found his rudeness appalling, and both candidates wicked. Gradually, however, I started finding Trump's frankness humorous, and then often refreshing. As you said, he's no politician! Every day I now turn on the news in hopes of hearing the latest on "the Donald." I'm fascinated by the phenomenon--both here and in the UK with Brexit--of people taking up and voicing such a strong stand against "business (or politics) as usual." Fascinated with where all this is going to lead …