The other day a friend from another forum made the following sardonic riposte to an opinion I put forward that he didn’t quite agree with: “Oh, I have remembered your political affiliation.”
Which got me to thinking about my “politics” a little more critically than I have perhaps ever tried to.
What is my political affiliation?
I loved Margaret Thatcher (Maggie) and still think she was the best political event that could have happened to the United Kingdom given how she took that country by the scruff of its neck and wrested it away from the ruinous grip of the trade unions. And who can today question the home ownership revolution Maggie presided over in Britain? That was probably her single most significant success for the average person in Britain.
I then gave a nod to her successor, John Major, thinking that he was going to be a Maggie replica only to be sorely disappointed by his writhing and spineless leadership. That dull-as-dishwater man set the Tory Party back 20 years, to the bad old days of Ted Heath.
While Maggie ruled Britain, I had mixed feelings about her close friend from across the pond, Ronald Reagan, mostly because I felt (and still do today) that Reagan’s record was a triumph of style over substance. Bill Clinton was a more effective and productive president and I feel he doesn’t get enough credit for his presidency which left America with a budget surplus for the first time in generations. Unfortunately,while president, he failed to maintain control over his zippers.
I look back with disdain at the reign of George W. Bush but don’t particularly care for the namby-pamby ‘tree hugging’ politics of Al Gore who would have become president hadn’t the US Supreme Court intervened in the hotly contested Florida vote-counting debacle of 2000. George Bush was a terrible president but it’s not lost on me that had Al Gore gotten in, we would all have been required to wear banana skirts, adopt a monkey and sing Kumbaya.
In a general thrust, while I believe that we should not think only about ourselves, I have no patience whatsoever for leftist thinking that seems to assume that everyone who is ‘poor’ deserves our tears and attention. We should help those less fortunate than ourselves but there is nothing to be ashamed of if you cut them adrift to face the vagaries of the world when the help you have provided is not used productively.
I don’t believe that there is anything such as God’s intent. So, we get the cards we are allotted by where we are born and how we are raised, and it is our responsibility to play those cards, not God’s. If you fail your exams, it is because you didn’t prepare well enough or you don’t have the aptitude to pass them. God has nothing to do with it and the sooner people stopped putting fatalistic faith in God’s power to make them do things the more we would all understand the importance of personal responsibility.
I am totally sympathetic with the fight for human rights for black people in America, women, children, the handicapped, gay men and women all over the world. But I don’t think that African-Americans, gays or women deserve special consideration till the end of time simply because of their race, gender or sexuality. So, once the basic help has been provided in the form of education, food stamps, and other state support for a specified period, there should be no shame about washing one’s hands of those who don’t grasp the nettle to lift themselves up by their boot straps. Cradle to grave state support should never ever be countenanced by any responsible government anywhere in the world.
As a gay man, I see the merit in marriage equality (or civil partnerships) but I also believe that respective states (in the case of the USA) should decide to grant gays the privilege to marry or not. Marriage is not a right in my view – it is just a social construct that one can opt in, out of or avoid totally. As long as gay men and women can love each other, cohabit, bequeath property to each other and do all the things that straight people take for granted (such as hospital visitations and joint taxation filing), churches and local governments can refuse to marry them if the majority so wish it.
I am sympathetic with the gay struggles in Africa and understand why activists continuously push governments on the issue of gay/LGBTI rights. LGBTI rights have never been won by lying down supinely and waiting for a hostile public to come round, at least in the beginning. But I am also too well aware of the conflict of interest when the activists have nothing else to do but be activists. That engenders a climate that encourages crying wolf at the expense of the larger good, the truth and the really pressing grassroots priorities.
While I cannot help but admire the bravery of gay activists who engage in running battles with police authorities in Africa and elsewhere, I also hang on to my feeling that there is ultimately nothing wrong with the African way of treating love and relationships as a … secret. That’s why I am not in favor of flag-waving gay parades or lurid discussions of gay sex on radio and television even in the most repressive African communities – unless that sort of battle is brought to our doorstep by our enemies such as Martin Ssempa has done on several occasions. Parades and sexual talk shows are cut and paste ideas that mistakenly try to buck the [rather successful] low-key African way of handling marriage and relationships.
I have tried to see what good NGOs (of almost all hues) do in Third World countries and I struggle to find more than a handful that I think are of any value to the people they purport to support. NGOs, to me, are vessels for bleeding heart expatriates, often with mediocre qualifications, who traipse into countries such as Uganda, load it over the locals who ultimately do the real dirty work, and then enjoy hefty salaries and hardship allowances despite enjoying a better standard of living in the Third World than they do back in their own home countries.NGOs, too, have a glaring conflict of interest in the sense that if poverty, world hunger, malnutrition, malaria, wife battery, child abuse, LGBTI-bashing were all eradicated they would have to shut down. So, it is really in the interest of NGOs for all these problems to continue and, now and then, escalate as happens in Somalia, Southern Sudan and Ethiopia. That’s how they stay in business.
I dislike coalition politics as I think it encourages vague, wishy-washy governance. But I can see that it has worked well in Germany for more than 50 years and it brought Zimbabwe back from the brink, messy though that coalition has proved to be. That is why I loved Maggie Thatcher; whether you liked her or not, you knew exactly what she stood for. Maggie would never have entered into the kind of ideologically confused Con-Lib coalition you now see in Britain.
I don’t see a lot of practical merit in communism but can’t help being in awe when I see how Cuba has managed to stand up to the USA for generations; spiting its face in the process, yes, but standing tall nonetheless. I also have no respect for China’s small-minded murderous red communists but look at how they have transformed that country’s fortunes in less than 25 years.
I detest dictatorships, but I also see that the benevolent dictatorships in Singapore and Malaysia haven’t done badly for those two countries. I also support hereditary monarchs and all the pomp and circumstance that come with them and so would like to see Buganda’s King Ronnie have more powers over his people than he does at the moment despite some of the anachronistic cultural traditions he still takes advantage of and the glaring weaknesses I see in his administration.
Contradictory? You bet.
I happen to think that Barack Obama is the most important event to have happened to America since Bill Clinton and will be totally bereft if America doesn’t give him a second term given the threadbare and dishonest alternative. It’s nice to know your man’s back is covered in your backyard but what a difference it would make if all the guaranteed 98% of the Washington, DC Obama votes could be transferred to Virginia! Or North Carolina.
I think Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni has no credibility or new ideas left whatsoever but what could come might infinitely be worse so I can see why Ugandans may best be advised re-elect him in 2016. Given that he is the only reason the Bahati anti-gay bill has not been passed already, I have to admit that it makes good political sense for the gay movement if Museveni stays in power for another 30 years.
What does that make my political affiliation out to be? I don’t think it matters, but I also recognize that I hold views that a lot of friends will never agree with.
In my mind, that’s okay, too.