Tales from the Cultural Wilderness - Journal

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2003-04-02 Entry: "Texan Politics"

I've come to the conclusion that British politics doesn't really map all that well onto the American system. There's still some similarities - the right want small government, every damned service privatised, and people to pay as few taxes as possible; while the left would rather government actually provided those services for the weak, the poor, the homeless, that they can't provide for themselves, and would ask you to pay a little bit more in taxes so that they can do that.

I'm going to freely admit the above left/right definitions are a gross oversimplification... for a start, the right would quite like to provide some of those social services, they just don't want to pay for them (as if they'll mysteriously appear out of the private sector or charities).

But Britain has managed (somehow) to maintain a third party, which America has degenerated into the two party system that most "First Past The Post" electoral systems are supposed to descend into. I can't quite put my finger on why we have a third party... it's possible that our parties refuse to be tied to ideologies for too long - if it doesn't work (or at least appear to be getting you elected), throw it out and try something new. The left/right split seems to be fairly fluid, with parties drifting back and forth fairly easily (and no, I'm not convinced that's just the center moving to wherever the currently popular party happens to be). Perhaps it's that our third party tends to be fairly liberal, and they're always willing to listen to the other guy's idea (and adopt him or her when their own party goes off on some loony pursuit).

Maybe I'm just talking complete rubbish and it's just a fluke that we've got three parties (which, lets be fair, is far more likely).

Anyway, back to my main thrust... my home politics (as a third party, liberal voter) don't really map all that well onto the two party system here. Admittedly, having observed politics in this corner of the wilderness for six months, I get the feeling I'm in a one party state, but that's what you get for living in the home of the Chimp In Charge (hey, Commander In Chief is just too easy to find replacements for).

If I had to pick a party here, I'd probably end up voting for the Democrats, but it'd be nice if they got a bit of support from the media now and again. Considering Dubya can do no wrong, it's no wonder the Republicans are having an easy time of it, but following monumental failures of diplomacy and spiralling unemployment it's amazing there's not even a little criticism. He'd have been eaten alive back home (as Fozzie is now finding out).

No, this isn't a coherent rant... that's left for better writers than I (see any number of weblogs bemoaning the right wing press in this country, but start here). It's more just a moan that I'd like to find at least some people whose ideologies are a little closer to my own...

Case in point - my birthday was a few short weeks back, and in between the truly bizarre contemporary ballet and going out and getting wrecked we were camped in a hotel room and discussions of "living in sin" came up (yes, I've jumped from politics to religion, so sue me). Now, there were fairly broad opinions between the five of us, between "No, don't do it" to "It's better to find out now that wait until you're married." Of course, my response was fairly easy - "I'm an atheist - sin against who exactly?!"

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