Left v Right

politics

There was a conversation on the Radio yesterday morning which, for me, perfectly illustrated the difference between left-wing and right-wing views of the world.

It was on LBC between breakfast presenter Nick Ferrari and a call whose name I didn’t catch and it was about how the NHS should deal with people with ‘weight problems”.

The caller was arguing that the full weight (pun intended) of the NHS should be thrown behind helping people, no matter what kind of help they needed—even if that meant ‘cooking lessons’ or ‘weight watchers’ classes.

Mr Ferrari, on the other hand, was of the view that an individual needs to show “willing” to help themselves, before the NHS steps in to support them, by, for example, losing a few pounds on their own first.

In response, the caller said this was a societal problem and that’s why the NHS should take responsibility for it.

Mr Ferrari asked about individual responsibility.

My son was in the car with me, and I thought this was an ideal opportunity to discuss some political theory with him. He’s almost 12 now and he needs to start thinking about the world around him and how its run.

So I said to him, “There you go, in a nutshell, one conversation that shows you the difference between right-wingers and left-wingers.”

He looked at me curiously and said, simply, “explain”.

“The left,” I said, “In general, believe in the power of the state over the power of the individual. Problems are societal and it’s up to society, by which they mean the state, to take responsibility.”

And before I could discuss the right-wing viewpoint, that of the individual over state/society, he said, “Yeah, but if you’re fat, you need to stop eating and do more exercise, and you can do that yourself, you don’t need the government to tell you to. You should know.”

I smiled and said, “Exactly. Those on The Right, believe in individual rights but that those rights come with individual responsibilities. Society, or the state, the Government, whatever you want to call it, should look after those not capable of looking after themselves, but generally, you need to look after yourself and your family first.”

He paused, thinking about this, and then said, “Makes sense.” And after another pause, “So, Jeremy Corbyn is Left, right?”

I nodded.

“And he’s wrong then? You need to look after yourself. If you can. Not expect anyone else to look after you. Unless you’re a kid or something. That’s, like, obvious. Isn’t it?”

That’s my boy.

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Language

I have said this before but, I love the way that language can be used to manipulate the way people think about something. Take, for example, the way that people who have entered a country though means other than the official channels have been described before and after the recent U.S. Presidential election.

Prior to election day, during the campaign, these individuals were routinely referred to as “Illegal Immigrants.” And following election day, in particular in connection with the #sanctuarycampus protests, they are being called “Undocumented Immigrants.”

Both descriptions are factually accurate. Entering a country in ways other than the proper channels, for example sneaking across a land border or stowing away on a sea-going vessel, is very much an illegal act and leads to the individual not having the appropriate documentation, like a visa, and thereby being ‘undocumented’.

But the two words used here are meant to make the listener/reader think and feel different things about those being described. “Illegal” is clearly a bad thing. Its usage is designed to make one consider these people in a harsh light. They are criminals. They are ‘cheating the system’.

Whereas “Undocumented” is a much softer description. Its use is designed to make you think that those being described are not bad people, they haven’t really done anything wrong, they just don’t have the right paperwork.

And yet, both words remain factually accurate descriptors of the people in this situation – that being, people who have not used the proper channels to enter a country. Keep in mind, this isn’t even a descriptor of refugees, because refugees entering a country do so legally and will have appropriate documentation.

The choice of descriptor tells you as much about the people choosing to use it as the people being described – if you’re able to look past the rhetoric and no be manipulated by the power of the chosen descriptor, that is.

Language. It’s fascinating. And it’s one of the reason I choose to write. I love being able to manipulate what people think and feel through my choice of words. I guess what separates me from the political class is that I do it for entertainment, yours as much as mine, while they do it for “other reasons”.

Protesting Democracy

In 2015, when Britain voted for a right-of-centre Conservative majority that no one had predicted, there were protests on the street from left-wingers.

In June 2016 when Britain voted to leave the EU when no one expected it, left-wingers were on the streets protesting.

And now that Trump has been elected President when no one expected it, the left-wingers are on the streets protesting.

Why don’t left-wingers like democracy? You didn’t see right-of-centre people protest when Tony Blair or Barrak Obama were elected. But when they lose elections, left-wingers seem to be “mad as hell” and “aren’t going to take it anymore”.

Sorry, but I don’t understand that attitude.

A Message to the People of the USA

I’d like to say something to the folks across the pond who are feeling the kind of shock, disappointment and, yes, even anger, that I felt on the morning of June 24th.

Democracy sucks. It’s a flawed system and sometimes you don’t get the result you want or expect. But it’s the best system we have and the alternatives are not even worth thinking about.

You didn’t get the result you wanted. You are angry and can’t understand why *anyone* would have voted the opposite way to you. How could they? Don’t they see? What’s wrong with these people? It shouldn’t be allowed. Something must be *done*!

But at the end of the day, this is Democracy. Your nation had its say, and it spoke clearly. And now you *have* to accept the result.

Yes, *you*.

You personally.

You don’t have to be happy about it, but you *do* have to accept it.

Because if you don’t, you undermine everything your Democracy, your country, stands for. Everything that our fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers fought for.

Yes, yes, I know, right now you think that the other guy winning undermines everything your country stands for. But the truth is that more people disagree with you than agree. And in a Democracy, The Majority rules.

Even the “quiet Majority” that don’t express on social media every feeling they have every second that they have it. Tweets, facebook posts and hashtags don’t matter. Votes do. One person, one vote. No-one’s opinion is more valuable than anyone else’s – even the rich, famous and powerful still only get one vote.

I was shocked and angry when Britain voted to leave the EU, but I accepted the result. I expressed my disappointment and confusion on social media, and my anger among friends. But I didn’t publicly call anyone any names, I didn’t publicly question anyone’s intelligence. That kind of reaction does not help, it only makes things worse. You may think you know better than ‘all those idiots’ that voted for the other guy – but they also think they know better than you. That’s why they voted the way they did.

And let’s be honest – if the result had gone the other way, if your girl had won and it was currently *his* supporters screaming about a ‘rigged system’, wouldn’t you be telling them to jog on? Wouldn’t you be telling them to shut the hell up and accept the result?

No? Really? You sure about that? Be honest, if not with me then with yourself.

Your country now needs to heal from what has been a vicious, divisive few months. And the only way it will heal is if you all accept what has happened, come together again as friends and find a way to make it work for the best – not just for you, but for the rest of the world too.

I wish the *United* States all the very best for the next four years. I hope they truly can be *united*. It may well be a bumpy ride, but the only way you, and the rest of us, will be in a better position in 2020 than we are right now, is if you do *unite*.

There will be time for analysing “what went wrong” later. You have four years to work out why this candidate failed to appeal to so many voters.

In the meantime, put aside your anger. Stop the name calling. Unite and move forward. For you. For your family. For your country.

And for all of us.

Hypocrisy

If there’s one thing I hate more than anything else, it’s Marmite. But that aside, what I hate, really hate, particularly in public figures, is hypocrisy.

So when I see a candidate in an election describe themselves as the “Unity Candidate” even though they wrote off roughly a quarter of the electorate as “deplorable”, I find it somewhat distasteful.

When I see a supporter of a candidate who is currently in the office being sought bemoan the ‘mud slinging’ of the other candidate, even though copious amounts of mud has been slung in both directions by both sides, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth

When I see one candidate pushing their gender as a reason to vote for them while calling the other candidate sexist, it saddens me.

Neither of the main candidates are innocent of rank hypocrisy. Both of them have set new lows for a political campaign – if you can call it that, I’m not sure it’s an accurate description. Whoever wins, “Unity” will be a long way off. Whichever candidate wins, I’m not sure America, or indeed the rest of the world, will win.

I’m actually glad I’m not voting today – that’s something I never in a million years thought I’d find myself saying – because voting for either of the two large parties’ candidates would have to be done while holding my nose. I suspect I’d be voting for Johnson if I’m honest – although, what I’ve seen of him isn’t that impressive either.

I suppose the best we can hope for is that this year is the shock to the system that US democracy needs. That this will be a one term president and that come 2020 – when, incidentally, the UK is due to go to the polls again too – better, more suitable candidates can be found and a debate can be had around actual issues and policy.

Hope – wasn’t that what Obama was elected on? Where all the hope gone now?