Democrat (US) + Conservative (UK) = Happiness: The case for hypocrisy.
Since the conclusion of the 2010 UK elections I have been ask how it is that I can be happy with simultaneously toting the merits of a Democratic government in the US while saying the same for Conservatives in the UK. A point that on first reading makes total sense and one that I am not surprised to be asked.
The answer to my position has many layers but in simple terms the UK and US are very different countries and Tory (UK) does not equal Republican (US). I grant you that both parties are classified as conservative, but to equate one to another is a miss understanding of both the political parties and the countries or their origin. A conservative attitude by broad definition is the argument against radical change (steady as she goes). It is the political attitude that incremental change, or holding to the values of the past is preferable to seismic change that a more Liberal perspective may be advocating.
Upon this reading I am in total agreement that for the UK ‘steady as she goes’ government is the best way forward. This is because the UK is a long established country that has been through its necessary seismic shifts. The UK is a fully fledged adult that has been through its childhood, its petulant teenage phase as well as being a young adult trying to establish its self in the world. At this point in time the UK is looking to coast into its old age and long happy retirement. Like most adults the UK is set in her ways and is very unlikely to seek massive change, instead opting for an alteration here and there, but nothing major. All political parties in the UK agree on so much because the country has long established attitudes that are very hard to dislodge. The only debates on the horizon that could even get close causing major upheaval are those over single currency and that of Trident. Both debates however hold a consensus from both major parties and are only being pushed by the 3rd party looking to drive a wedge. At the end of the day they are issues that only came up for reasons of politics and not of governance.
The greatest surprise, and for me the most refreshing aspect of the recent election, is that the UK has a ‘steady as she goes’ government that is being nudged along by a Liberal political influence. This is effectively silencing the more extreme voices of British Conservatives and could very well result in some political process changes that do need to be addressed. I hope that the Lib Dem’s get their vote on PR (Proportional Representation), for this is a political debate and not one of Governance. Politics and Government are two different things and should not be confused. When it comes to politics I am for all the seismic shifts that can be found, anything that can be done to level the playing field and give real choice to the voter is a huge positive. However, this in no way means that I am looking for an overly liberal government for the UK, it is not right for the country and I would never advocate it.
In simple terms for the UK I want to see liberal political debate on anything relating to the actual process of politics, but conservatism in government to ensure the stability of the country. I hold this view largely because of the position in Britain’s development and the current global context. The US however, I see things very differently.
Instead of being a middle to late aged adult, the US is a young 20 something. America is still trying to find its place in the world and having the arguments of its teenage youth. It isn’t ready to sit down with a nice cup of tea because it is still out drinking, having a good time and waking up in the morning with a sore head. Any country that is at this stage of this its development should be trying new things and looking to experiment with seismic shifts. It is a natural part of America’s development and should be encouraged. Good things will come from those shifts like health care and equality. I encourage all the big thinking, new ideas the democrats can offer. America needs to experiment in order to find would is right for its self in the long term, it will only be able to do this under Democratic leadership.
Beyond this more philosophical argument regarding political alliance being contextualized into the different stages of a nations development there are more practical reason as to why the US should stay a long way from its Republican party.
Firstly, and lets be very clear on this. If America had a European system there would be many many political parties. America loves its politics and for this it should be held up as a model to the world, I just wish that it would allow itself a greater choice than simply left or right. America is a big enough country to have multiple parties that cover the political spectrum. It is my opinion that the ‘big tent’, two party style system has resulted in some very unconventional bed fellows. To explain let me give you the example of myself and to be honest the principle reason as to why I could never vote Republican:
All variables being equal I would position myself slightly right of centre. I would like to see government being slightly smaller than it is, and I do have objections to government spending especially when it comes to anything relating to being the ‘policeman of the world’. I do not however feel that my views on taxation out way the disgust that I have for the moralizing of the Religious Right. The government could charge me 100% income tax and I still wouldn’t vote on the side of Evangelical America. A women has every right to choose, a gay couple can do what ever they want in terms of marriage and you can keep your faux Christian ideology out of any country that still believes in separation of powers. It has no place, it has no legitimacy and it needs to stop trying to influence any decision, at any level government be it State or National in the whole of America. I rejoice from the bottom of my heart any political victory that that ensures these extremists are kept from positions of influence. So yes, it can be said that I am happy to see a Democrat in the White House for the simple reason that it ensures that the Hard Right isn’t.
My political views between these two very different nations are the product of many influences. I do not subscribe to the notion that one system, or ideology is right for every nation on earth and as a result I sit comfortably straddling the divide. In my heart I am Center Right, and if and when America gives a real choice to its voters then I may well not support the Democrats, but until such times the get my hypothetical vote every time. Like wise, in the UK I am Tory through and through. They represent the ‘steady as she goes’ policies that I feel are important especially at this time. However, should dear old England find her political HRT medication then I reserve the right to switch vote enjoy the throws and a second youth.