Friday, 23 June 2017

Fish out of water

I'm passionate about politics. I want to see a fairer, more humane, more liberating society. I want an end to poverty, squalor, deprivation. I'm not content to shrug my shoulders and say, that's how things are, you just have to adjust and make the most of what you're given. I want changes. Big changes.

But I don't belong to a political party. I was a Labour Party member in the 1980s but since then I've kept out of organised politics. Why? Because whenever I go to a party-political gathering, I never feel comfortable. I feel like a fish out of water.

There's something about being in a political party that makes many people insufferably smug, self-righteous, pretentious, condescending and cliquey. They think their set of beliefs is the only correct one and that people with different beliefs are clearly muddle-headed and ignorant.

I feel I'm expected to be on-message at all times, and if I voice any opinion contrary to the official line, I'll have my head bitten off. Free speech might seem to be welcome, but in practice there are all sorts of unwritten taboos.

So I avoid such gatherings and give my support to specific protests, campaigns and lobbies where the focus is on a single injustice rather than party politicking. Things like marriage equality, a woman's right to choose, preserving the NHS, preserving the welfare state, ending austerity economics. I go to rallies, I sign petitions, I refuse private healthcare.

I can just be one of the crowd, one of the petition signers, or whatever, without having to subscribe to a particular ideology or doctrine, or watch what I'm saying in case I cross some invisible line and ruffle everyone's feathers.

As an ingrained introvert, I'm happy to plough my own furrow.

Pic: woman on an anti-Trump protest in the USA

23 comments:

Bijoux said...

I don't belong to a political party either. I would prefer an elimination of parties and have people just run on where they stand on specific issues. Not that a voter couldn't tell the difference between a conservative vs liberal candidate, but it would give moderates in both parties a chance, as well as working on issues that affect the majority of people instead of the extremes.

I also prefer to help people at a local level, where it is more direct, such as buying diapers for mothers in need. I feel as though giving money to large organizations is just filling administrator's pockets more than anything else.

John Gray said...

I have yet found a politician that really inspires me

Nick said...

Bijoux: You mean politicians should all be independents, with their own set of policies? Sounds good, but I suppose that would make any kind of negotiating very complicated if you had to allow for all the different points of view (650 of them in the British Parliament).

I guess every organisation needs administrators. I think the real question is what proportion of the organisation's budget are they consuming? Usually it's between 9 and 12 per cent.

Nick said...

John: Not even Barack Obama or Sadiq Khan or Justin Trudeau?

Hattie said...

I belong to the Democratic Party so that I can vote in the caucuses but am not an active member. The main political thing I'm involved with is the League of Women Voters, which is primarily focused on voters' rights. We register voters, run elections, sponsor candidates' forums and so on. I'm a past sec'y and President of our local League and editor of the Newsletter. I hate having to slow down now, but I have to focus on my cancer treatment.

helen devries said...

I left the Labour Party in the Blair period....when it became just as you decribe it. I much preferred our old scruffy CLP meetings where any message wuld have become a Chinese whisper in instants.
Anarchic we may have been, but we saw off the infiltrators of the Gang of Four and kept on trying for a better world.
Clearly under Blair, with top down selection of candidates and the removal of the awkward squad the better world was never going to happen.

Nick said...

Hattie: The League of Women Voters sounds good. Yes, it must be frustrating to have to slow down and not do all the things you're used to doing. But as you say, your health problems must take priority.

Nick said...

Helen: Indeed, the scruffy and anarchic constituency meetings of the eighties, I remember them well. There was always a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. Somewhere along the line party politics became much more authoritarian.

tammy j said...

if our country becomes any more polarized it will be beyond help. maybe it already IS beyond help.
in this last election nightmare entire families literally broke apart!
it was terrible to hear about or watch. people blogged about it. and you could hear it in restaurants as people should have been eating a pleasant meal. people disowned each other! that is amazing to me.
we even have entire states now that are 'one or the other' so that your vote doesn't even count if you're the 'opposite' party.
I feel the way you do about it nick.

Nick said...

Tammy: People disowning each other in restaurants? Extraordinary. The US is certainly getting polarised. There's a lot of polarisation here too over the EU referendum. The Brexiters think the Remainers should shut up, stop complaining and accept the verdict, even though the margin of victory was only 4 per cent.

Dave Martin said...

I stay away from politics and keep my views to myself. People get very emotional about it and I can't be doing with arguments.

Nick said...

Dave: A wise man. Political arguments can get very nasty. And interminable. And usually totally unproductive.

CheerfulMonk said...

I tend to avoid crowds and groups. I do give to some non-profits like the Center for Science in the Public Interest, various environmental groups, etc. And we spend quite a bit of money each year supporting investigative journalism, both by subscribing and also donations.

Nick said...

Jean: Supporting worthwhile campaigns is a good thing to do, and it avoids all the face-to-face political skirmishes.

Secret Agent Woman said...

I am registered as a Democrat to vote in primaries. And I have voted for the Democratic presidential candidate every single time. They are just more aligned with my values and I want people in office who at least lean left. I don't really feel a strong allegiance to the party itself, it's just that the Republicans have lost their damn minds of late.

joared said...

I'm not a member of a political party either for many of the reasons you cite. For many years now the parties have evolved or regressed in some cases to a degree that I just couldn't in good conscience support them. I had to identify with one in order to vote in our Calif. primary elections until the last election. We had previously passed a measure that altered that situation. I quickly changed my registration to undeclared. Prior to that I voted candidates and issues, not a party, anyway, except in those primaries.

I enjoy talking issues as long as the conversation is civil with no name-calling. Liked debate when we had to take turns defending both sides of an issue. The so-called U.S. TV debates are a joke. We need more intelligent discussions with one another about issues, but too many people do become emotionally volatile in the process.

Nick said...

Agent: The Republicans certainly seem to have "lost their damn minds". From my viewpoint, they seem to be hell-bent on making the worst-off in society more wretched still.

Joared: Civil debates with no name-calling are fine, but as you say, too many people get over-emotional (and abusive) and what could be a productive debate descends into a shrieking cat-fight. I've seen it happen time after time.

Wisewebwoman said...

I support no political parties. I scream at them all. Like today. Fired off a demand for a forensic audit
on expenditures on a project that is banrupting us. Corruption is rampant on this island. And I do hold their hands to the fire BUT they weasel and bafflespeak until I'm dizzy.And sick.

I agree small steps and no affiliation. They all just serve their own pockets.And Trudeau, tho pretty, is not all as he seems.

XO
WWW

Nick said...

www: Political corruption is pretty rampant everywhere, by the looks of it. Certainly common in Northern Ireland. The Renewable Heat Incentive is a case in point. Businesses have been given generous subsidies to install boilers fuelled by wood pellets. Not only is wood burning a serious source of pollution, the boiler owners are making huge profits out of the subsidies.

Jenny Woolf said...

I know what you mean about political parties. I guess what I don't like is that they promise the earth but they're only human, and we might as well acknowledge that. But you're not supposed to. I am far more concerned these days about the increasing shambles and disaster that's being made out of Brexit. and neither of the main political parties offers representation to people who feel that sadly

Nick said...

Jenny: Absolutely, they make all sorts of grand promises but won't admit they'll probably only fulfill a few of them. Brexit is an unbelievable shambles. Already Tory Ministers are disagreeing violently on what they're aiming for. And EU citizens in vital public services are leaving the UK in droves for fear of the future. It'll all end in tears.

Rummuser said...

I am a very interested bystander and enjoy all the shenanigans. I also like to play the provocateur to get some reactions from friends on either side of the idealogical spectrum here.

Nick said...

Ramana: Shenanigans indeed. Hard to believe some of the transparent nonsense and bare-faced lies that come out of politicians' mouths.