So. A day or two ago I was watching a video on Youtube in which a young woman declared that since her leader, US President Obama, is a Democrat, this makes her a Republican. This is, in many ways, an extremely odd pattern of thought, yet extremely common, I have noticed, in my admittedly few dealings with Americans, and in other political debate. It is interesting, because such a logic implies that, firstly, there are only two answers to any political question, and, secondly, opposition to a single person and his/her policies means opposition to his/her broad position on the political spectrum. Duverger's law (more on that another day, when I will get terribly nerdy about electoral systems) tells us that in first-past-the-post systems such as that used in the USA, political thought inevitably polarises around two extremes, two political parties, with little possibility of compromise or cooperation. This incident, and, in a wider sense, the near-total hegemony of Democrat and Republican, two parties who often seem to be bitterly opposed to each other on fundamental levels, seems to be the apotheosis of such a concept.
This phenomenon can be witnessed in the UK too, where we often hear such talk as "Labour caused the financial crisis" or "the Tories will wreck the NHS" (neither of which statements are totally wrong, or totally right), although here it is tempered by two factors - the disdain of the public for any party politician, whatever the stripe, and the widespread feeling that all three major parties are less than a gnat's wing apart from each other. Where in the USA Democrat and Republican seem implacably opposed to each other, here in the UK the parties are often considered too close to each other for any meaningful debate. It appears to me, and again this is based on purely circumstantial evidence, that such a feeling is not so powerful in those countries which have proportional representation. This system, which requires coalitions, cooperation and the willingness to listen to other shades of opinion, seems to me to foster a culture of understanding and of unity, which ultimately leads to a better politics.
So there are some opening observations. Over the next few days of this blog, I will attempt to impart some of what I know, in a hopefully useful fashion, in the following order. I hope you are willing to keep reading, even in the scary bits. Out of the frying pan into the fire, as one might irrelevantly say.
April 16th - the British political system, part one: the House of Commons, the Cabinet and political parties.
April 17th - the British political system, part two: Lords, kings and devolved parliaments.
April 18th-22nd - I'm not here. Do something with your lives.
April 23rd - to break it up, a review of the first episode of Doctor Who! EXCITED.
April 24th - political systems compared across the world. Or something along those lines.
April 25th - the aforementioned nerdy electoral systems post. Be happy.
Any suggestions, questions, criticism or whatever - either scribble down below or hit me up on twitter. You should follow me in both places too. Cos, you know. That's how we roll round here.
This blog was inspired by an impromptu twitter conversation with all-round interesting person Julia Taylor. Linky. about.me/juliabobulia92