“The stars seem one thing but they are quite another, these acrobats deceive you brazenly…” — Mirza Ghalib
I was still at school when Labour came to power in the UK in 1997. This landslide victory for Labour was a momentous occasion, and for traditional Labour voters, it was an opportunity for the vision for change to finally become a reality.
More than ten years later, that dream is a distant memory. Did Blair’s government bring about the change that electorate at the time desired? For stanch Labourites anyway, the answer would be a resounding “No.”
My point is, does anything really change in politics?
Fast-forward to the US Presidential election 2008, and it seems like history is repeating itself. No doubt that change is a powerful election-winning drug; seven years of having Bush preside over the White House have made the American public hungry for it.
I’m rooting for Barack, because I think America needs a leader who is articulate and charismatic, and because I want an end to the Iraq war. However, maybe it’s my British cynicism, but I don’t really believe that the election of a new President will bring about radical change in policy. I’ve seen it with Labour in the UK; all the parties promise change but the reality is that it’s a different story after they get elected.
Obama claims to offer “Change You Can Believe In”. Hillary asks you to help her “Make History,” and says her experience shows that she can deliver change. The truth is, every politician since the dawn of time has spouted the same rhetoric to the people. Just refer to Niccholo Machiavelli’s The Prince for evidence.
But the real reason I don’t believe in political change, is that whilst Obama is, (and always was) against the war in Iraq, both the Republicans and the Democrats are united on the issue of “surgical” missile strikes in Iran. Frankly, I find it shocking that Obama could contemplate providing support for Bush’s next war. That doesn’t sound too progressive to me.
I also think the voters are being polarised by issues which really shouldn’t matter. Much of the news coverage I’ve seen resembles this spoof from The Onion (so funny and yet so true!).
I just don’t think issues such as Obama’s religion, or Hillary’s emotional state are relevant. I’m not saying that the majority of the electorate will be swayed by such superficiality, but clearly it will matter for some. I’d like to see a proper debate that goes beyond religious views, race, or gender, and not an election that resembles an episode of Will and Grace. Did you see the one where Will votes for the gay candidate and where Grace votes for the Jewish woman? Great comedy, but would you really want to be duped into a vote based on attributes that are beyond a candidate’s control?
To illustrate my point, here’s an article written by Alec Baldwin in The Huffington Post, which shows what some Republicans in small town America have been writing about Barack. It’s tragic that in this day and age, religion, race or gender should matter, but clearly in the world of dirty politics, anything goes.
Image from a poster by Shepard Fairey.
I’m not a political commentator, but everyone is allowed to have an opinion. Please let me know yours by posting your comments.