Family Nature

Politics Schmolitics

Politics. I hate politics. Why am I writing a blog post on politics then? Well, I guess it’s just on my mind.

With the announcement of the May 2nd election less than a week behind us, it’s already started: the trash talking, name-calling, insult-spewing election campaign. Unfortunately, it’s doesn’t end with the politicians themselves. The internet is a-twitter – literally. With Twitter, Facebook, Blogs and the like, it seems to be all us Canadian folk are talking about.

I guess it’s just not something that I get all that worked up about. I don’t think the sky is falling with our current leader. I don’t think the sky would fall if any of the other party leaders became our Prime Minister. Maybe I should care more. But I don’t. And it’s not because I don’t care about the issues – I do! But to be completely honest, I don’t think there would be any measurable difference either in my life, or in the lives of most people I know if power changed hands; or even if it stayed the same, for that matter.

The thing is, I would be more interested in politics if it wasn’t always such a blood bath. We all get so bogged down with nonsensical hogwash I think we actually lose sight of what the issues are. So for the most part, I just stay as far away from politics as I can.

But then (and here is part 2 of the blog post) … I can’t seem to get away from it. It’s everywhere. And here’s my dirty little secret: my husband, the father of my children; yes, Mr. FamilyNature himself is a card carrying Conservative.

There. I said it.

Shocking, isn’t it? People are always surprised when they find out. (Actually, his membership expired a while ago, but still, you get the point.) And guess what else? He’s a nice guy, an AP Dad, a committed husband and all-around good citizen. He helps strangers change their tires, he’ll help push you out of a snow bank and he’ll buy you a coffee if you’re short on change. He’s not evil, or lizard-like. He doesn’t hate women, he isn’t anti-abortion and he’s not anti-gay. He’s even (are you sitting down?) PRO gay marriage.

I can’t help but wonder what people think when they hear that Mr. FN is conservative-minded. Do they make judgements about him? About me? I guess I’m kind of hesitant to tell people. Most people I know are not conservative supporters. In fact, I’d say, that most people I know are conservative-haters. Do they hate all conservatives, or just our evil leader?

Maybe this is silly, but it sort of seems like when people insult a party, or a leader, it’s also kind of a dig to the people who vote for them. “How could a person possibly vote for [enter party name here]?!” or when they refer to a certain party leader as “alien” or “cold-blooded” or “evil” or whatever, it kind of feels – a teeny-tiny bit – like they are also insulting those who might support said leader.

I suppose I’m opening a can of worms here. I actually don’t want to talk actual politics. I do not want to start a debate. For me, this post isn’t about a particular party. I guess what I’m saying is: can’t we all just get along? Can we all please try to remember, that there are living, breathing, human beings that vote for every party? And while debate and differing opinions are important — necessary, even. I think there’s a way to do it without implying that everyone who doesn’t feel the same way as you is an idiot.

6 thoughts on “Politics Schmolitics

  1. Alexandra

    Well, for what it’s worth, I do not feel like I am “at home” in any of the parties. I believe in healthy debate and a multi-party system, but I am slightly devastated at the thought of ANY of the current parties being fully in charge.

    What surprises me about myself as I’ve gotten older is the extent to which I am less and less supportive of “big government” ideas. I despise the idea of increasing the CPP, and that’s a big plank in the current Liberal platform.

    On the other hand, I know I would benefit from income-splitting in my household (a big plank in the current Conservative platform), but I do not like the extent to which single-parent families are unable to benefit from income-splitting (if this thing ever comes about, which it will not) and how it does not benefit lower-income families in any way. So it ends up just feeling selfish for me to say I “like” income-splitting.

    Which leaves me thinking that the status quo is the best of all options, but that isn’t very satisfying either – it’s just because I feel unable to make a good decision about what party I actually support.

  2. bud

    Amanda,

    part of the problem may be that there are different kinds of “conservative,” just as there are different kinds of “liberal,” and that this simply doesn’t come up in the debate. I suspect that people assume that if you’re a “Conservative” that this means you must be conservative in both your fiscal senses, and in your social senses, too. Ditto if you’re a “Liberal.”

    Therefore, someone like Mr. FN, who seems to me fiscally Conservative, but Socially more Liberal, must bear the wrath of those who “hate” “Conservatives” for whichever reason, because there isn’t room in their image of a “Conservative” for someone who supports, for instance, a progressive stand on gay marriage…
    Similarly, someone who is fiscally “Liberal” might find themselves having to admit that they find themselves on the “conservative” side of a social issue. (I think a lot of church-goers in Canada find themselves in this boat)

    Hence, we get the stereotypes of the Woman-hating, Gay-bashing, Immigrant-hating, slash-the-safety-net, screw-the-poor “Conservative,” the the Won’t-stand-up-for-anything, Tax-and-Spend “Liberal,”and the limp-wristed, Tofu-eating, pro-union, peace-and-love New Democrat.

  3. Holly

    Amanda, you know I think you are wonderful, but claiming that you “care about the issues” but are opting out of engaging in political discussion because you don’t enjoy it is sort of like saying that you care about your child’s well-being but are opting out of the unpleasant aspects of parenting.

    This is what democracy is like the vast majority of the time, in the vast majority of places, across the vast majority of history. It isn’t going to change for you, especially if you don’t participate. Staying out of it just means that the people who are willing to suck it up and wade into the mud (plus those who actually like the bloodbath) are louder in the discussion and your voice is even less likely to get heard. Democracy requires citizen engagement. It’s tiring and not always (or even usually) fun, but it’s part of being a citizen. (And, perhaps it doesn’t need to be said, but billions of people would love to be in our shoes.)

    As for effects on your life, the wheels grind slowly, and effects of policy changes generally take a long time to show up. By that point you may not remember (or know) about the politics that led to that policy change. But that doesn’t mean there is no difference. You may not notice a difference this year, but every new law and every shift in policy moves us in a slightly different direction. Over time, we can wind up in quite different places, depending on what happened policy-wise years or decades ago.

    I’ve personally voted everything from conservative to green, depending on the election and issues. I’ve never been 100% in agreement with any party’s platform, but there is always one that I judge as best according to my values. (In other words, I don’t care if someone is a card-carrying conservative, although I don’t personally believe in choosing a team for life like that.)

  4. Amanda

    I have voted in every election since I turned 18. I have never missed one (not even when my poor 3 week old exclusively breastfeed babe was in the hospital — Simon stayed with him while I ran as fast as I could to vote). So I’m not opting out of politics altogether. I do make an effort to know the candidates in my area are all about, and I always try to make an informed decision in the end.

    I think I would be more involved in politcs — and maybe even enjoy it — if I didn’t think that the debates were so childish. I wish we could just stick to the facts. People vote based on how Harper seems “cold” or Ignatief is “slimy” — I’m more interested in knowing about the issues.

    Also, Mr. FN hasn’t always been a conservative supporter, so he hasn’t chosen them for life. It’s just how he’s voted in recent years (which, it would seem, is in contrast to most of the people our age and in this area). He has voted for probably every other party out there as have I.

  5. Holly

    I’m sorry, are we talking about voting now? I am confused. I read the post as being about political discussion, and that’s what I was responding to. If I misread, I apologize.

    I was trying to say that political discussion and engagement are enormously important features of democracy. Voting is important, of course, and it’s wonderful when people are committed to it, but it’s the bare minimum. Opting out of anything beyond that clearly implies less caring about the issues than engaging. Just because some other people use discussion styles you don’t like, that doesn’t mean you can’t bring your own style. I mean, you could write a post about an issue and stick to the facts.

    And, for what it’s worth, lots of discussions in which I am involved stick very much to the facts. I’m not sure who all these people are who vote based on coldness or sliminess. I’m sure they exist, but in my experience, not among people who are actually engaged in political discussions. And people who use those words may simply be unable to articulate everything behind them, but I can totally see how a person would have one or both of those opinions.

    Re: conservative for life, I have always understood the descriptor, “card-carrying,” to mean an actual member of the party, which is highly associated with lifelong loyalty. Perhaps that is my misinterpretation, based too heavily on my time in the US. There, when someone describes themselves as a, “card-carrying Republican,” that means they can (and sometimes do) show you an actual card! 🙂 Sorry if I misunderstood.

  6. Amanda

    Aak — I think I misunderstood your comment! I thought that you thought that I was saying I didn’t vote.

    Anyway, yes, it is true that discussion is important. Maybe I’m just spending too much time on Facebook where every other thing in my feed is some derrogatory comment about someone or some party (mostly the conservatives). News sources seem to really lean one way or the other as well.

    Simon *did* used to have a card in his wallet — literally! 🙂 But he didn’t renew his membership the last time it expired for no other reason than he just forgot.

    (No apolgy needed, BTW.)