I've been lamenting the state of political discourse for some time now: the left is mired in dinosaur politics and enamoured of neoliberalism for the sake of getting votes; the liberals think neoliberalism is a middle-ground position and are working to make weirdness normal, and the right is basically cartoon evil. The whole lot needs to be reset, stat. The whole damn world has lurched sharply to the hard right and everyone who doesn't like it is apparently a "confirmed socialist" even if their views have always been moderate. This is affecting every aspect of our lives whether you have noticed this or not. Let's take a closer look at the state of play.
Brexit: British exceptionalism collides with reality
Brexit will force prices up because we'll be on the WTO trading rates. Far from being at the front of the queue for new trade deals we are right at the back because we're not the Anglophile gateway to the EU markets any more. Cheer up, Britain, there's always TTIP and CETA, ISDS-ridden Trojan horses that they are. Bow before your corporate overlords.
Ignorance is not bliss
The Brexiteers are pushing on regardless, citing "Rule Britannia" as a raison d'être. Some of them are even invoking the Dunkirk spirit of "everybody to the boats to help each other out" as if unending austerity is a goal worth suffering for. The right-wing papers, with an eye on the backlash to follow when White Van Man finally realises he's been conned, are turning on their Tory puppets in an effort to "persuade" them to pull a rabbit out of the hat. Good luck with that.
The negotiations continue but progress is not being made because the Brits seem to think they can create their own reality. Someone needs to tell them Karl Rove is a prat and should be ignored, not emulated.
The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do." - Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush, by Ron Suskind for the New York Times Magazine
Mark my words, this is how the Brexit brigade think: that we are an empire and they can create their own reality. That's not the way the world works, people, and they've got no right to force their delusions onto the rest of us. As of Friday 28th April 2017, this is the state of play:
EU leaders expressed mounting alarm Friday that U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May and her team are in a dangerous state of denial about the consequences of leaving the bloc.
The worry over Britain’s unrealistic expectations was a main topic of discussion at background briefings all across Brussels’ European Quarter on the eve of an extraordinary European Council summit on Brexit. - Britain’s Brexit denial, by David M. Herszenhorn and Jakob Hanke for Politico
Tell me why you think I'm wrong if you disagree. If you're still pro-Brexit explain why. "But the EU is eeeevilll" isn't a reason, it's evidence that you only pay attention to the right wing media, and in case you didn't notice they've been lying to you.
EU Council President Donald Tusk is demanding that EU citizens and their families must have solid guarantees as to their status after Brexit. The Brexiteers have been trying to use this as leverage — with horrific results as people who have lived here for decades face being booted out. I'm one of them.
What about Ireland?
Meanwhile, the likelihood of my seeing a united Ireland in my lifetime — de facto if not official — draws nearer every day.
What this means
Brexit is a shambles, pure and simple. The right wing press is starting to cop on but they're whingeing that they can't get their own way and the comments sections...! Basically, it's xenophobia up the wazoo. I thought we'd fought a world flippin' war over attitudes like this. "I hate foreigners coming into our country, acting like they've got a right to be here" is not a good enough reason to drive it over a flippin' cliff. Brexit was a bad idea from the get-go. The smarter thing to do would have been to pull back on the "ever-closer union" side of things and increase accountability, then undo each layer of treaties to get us into a position in which we could exit (or not) without making fools of ourselves. If we can't make Brexit work we need to apologise, back away slowly, then turn and run back to the EU, end of. As for "democratic vote," that was rigged by flat out lying to easily-led idiots. Yes, it counts, but give them the correct information this time and let them choose again. You may find that the new results are vastly different. Brexiters, stop calling us "Remoaners." We're smarter than you are.
The Blue bubble
The party currently running the country
Take a look at this:
If a further pregnancy results in a multiple birth on or after 6 April 2017, you’ll get the child element for all but one of those children.
For example, if you already get Child Tax Credit for 2 or more children and you have twins, you’ll get the child element for one of the twins. If you have triplets, you’ll get the child element for 2 of the triplets. - Child Tax Credit: exceptions to the 2 child limit, from Gov.uk
This is from the much-vaunted list of exceptions to
Funding poor families
Basically, they're stuck in a Victorian paradigm that presents the poor and those with large families as idle, feckless, and living off the rest of us. Yes, such people totally do exist, but not in sufficient numbers to bring the whole welfare state crashing down beneath the burden of their ever-increasing brood of mini-me claimants. See how the right wing press froths at the mouth as it indignantly jerks its thumb, along with its knee, at the number of families with nine or more kids claiming benefits. The figure is between six hundred and a thousand-odd depending on which paper you're willing to take seriously. Even if the figure was as high as two thousand, that's not a lot in a country with a population of 65 million plus. Settle down. No, I'm not suggesting it's okay for Mickey Mojo to sire a plethora of paupers for the rest of us to fund but starving or humilating them is morally indefensible. In any case, if you're of the trickle-down persuasion and believe that keeping wages low stimulates the economy, shouldn't you applaud Mr. Mojo for providing us with low-wage drones to work those zero-hour contracts jobs we usually give to the foreigners we're trying to keep out of the country? Just asking.
Cognitive dissonance par excellence
This is the cognitive dissonance that characterises the blue bubble: what are we supposed to do with the poor? Where do we store them when we don't need them to work at the low-paid jobs we expect them to do to keep our own living costs down? Why do we believe we have the right to demand that they prop up our prosperity? What about the disabled? How much responsibility do we place on themselves and their families for supporting them? None of this is an issue for those of us who aren't stuck in the blue bubble.
America: normalising nuts
Donald Trump runs his country like a banana republic dictator and the government has no qualms about this at all. His chief advisers are Jared and Ivanka Kushner; his son-in-law and daughter. They have undertaken official visits to foreign countries even though they are unqualified to do so.
Trump isn't known for his integrity; is it any surprise that he's gone back on making the Mexicans pay for the border wall he was banging on about during his campaign? Yes indeed, he's threatening to shut down government unless the US congress agrees to pay for it. And the base still backs him.
RE: NAFTA, the trade deal with Canada and Mexico, he was supposed to be renegotiating it, but now he's trying to cast himself as both a nationalist and a globalist. Is it comfy on the fence, Mr. President?
Twelve members of his staff have quit or been fired over ethics violations. If Obama had done that he'd have been impeached on the spot. Trump? That's Donny Boy for you.
This next point has to be seen to be believed:
Yes indeed, he jerked his thumb at left-leaning Democrat Elizabeth Warren and called her "Pocahontas." It's his way.You've normalized him so much, @ABC, you think the story is Warren might be his opponent, not that he used a racial slur towards a senator. https://t.co/66IbOyhoy7— Janet Johnson (@JJohnsonLaw) April 29, 2017
What's the problem?
Western countries have always had a certain level of corruption in government but this was usually within a level of nudge-wink tolerance; basically it was contained to the point where the day-to-day running of the country and its institutions wasn't being affected to a significant degree. It was also discreetly tucked away where the public couldn't see it. Now it's like a shemale at a nudist camp. You're not supposed to stare but you just can't stop yourself. That's not supposed to be there, is it? That's not the way it's meant to be. But like good little proggies we're not going to say anything, right? Oh wait, this is not a prog thing, it's a "conservative" thing. They're the ones not saying anything, making this entirely legal, normal, and politically acceptable. But the rest of the world has noticed. Result: America has lost the moral standing and leadership it used to have. This isn't something you can fix with a flippin' MOAB, Uncle Sam. Just saying.
What can we do?
We have an election coming up. So do the French. We can either swing the country leftwards to enable a real middle to develop or we can swing it to the cartoonishly evil right of Hitler. I would like to live in a country where the people have a say in what is going on and where the news is news, not propaganda. I would like to live in a country where we're paid enough to live on after we've put in a day's work. I would like to live in a country where communities are nurtured and empowered, not broken up to reduce resistance to bad policies. I would like to live in a country where people are treated equally and with dignity, not left to die because they rely on services not being provided to them. And I would like to live in a country in which an adult conversation can be had about the services we need and how to pay for them. What can we do?
How to decide
Decide what sort of a country — and ultimately, what sort of world we want to live in. I kid you not, the choice you make on 8th June 2017 will affect the world we live in since the new Prime Minister will be interacting with world leaders on our behalves. That's a big deal. Make your choices based not just on their promises but on their record in office. They either care about us or they don't. Check your candidates out carefully: what do they stand for? What do they vote for? How have they conducted themselves — are they involved in any scandal?
I advise you to vote for the one whose policies and voting record benefit yourself, your family, and your community the most, regardless of party affiliation or political bias. If you find you're not impressed you may find you're stuck with the least worst choice. We can work on proportional representation later; let's get out and vote. If you don't vote, don't complain; you've got a chance to make a difference. Take it.