Baa humbug!Thinking about politics. My goodness, that’s a rare occurrence, but difficult not to with the May general election just confirmed. I’m in the great mass of disaffected former Labour supporters, and I flounder there and mostly just don’t think about it, focus on the specific and the local, things I can be clear about.
A not uncommon position – a little uncommon perhaps in that, for more than 20 years, I worked in politics, thought about little else and suffered from that well-known illusion: if I miss a single news bulletin, fail to keep track of what’s happening everywhere – something dreadful will happen! The first time I went on a meditation retreat, saw and heard no news for several days, gosh it was a big deal.
Now I don’t read or listen to the news religiously, go straight to the Review section of the Sunday papers, no longer know who’s the minister for everything and who’s in government everywhere. And it is weird. What was I doing all those years? I just don’t think about it. But I’m going to have to think about who to vote for in May. Since Labour took power and proved not to have priorities I shared, I’ve voted for Greens, Liberal Democrats and assorted alternative leftists. Ad hoc, tactical decisions every time.
Of course, you don’t lose the urge to belong. I suppose I have diverted this, to some extent, to Buddhism, and that knowledge has made me really wary of identifying too closely with any particular strand. Enough isms for one lifetime. (though most Buddhists take a very thoughtful and questioning approach to this, have a lot to say about the difference between community and over-identification). But, like most people, I’m a sheep, not a shepherd. The fate of sheep who wonder off alone is not usually a happy one. So I'm still here, the quizzical sheep in the corner.
Good luck with your election. I have been through a number of amazing elections in my life. I always get deeply involved and passionately concerned. I don't know about sheeping or shepherding - I think I become more like a tiger pacing back and forth.
When I look at the bigger picture it's always the tone that an administration will set that concerns me more than all the little stuff. And of course the little stuff makes up the bigger picture in the long run creating the tone.
I normally hate the fact that I can't vote in the UK national election, being French and all, but this time, it's actually a bit of a relief, as like you, I can't really identify with Labour any more but would be scared of helping the Tories get into power by voting for another party...
Tamar, I have been a tiger pacing back and forth many times. I don't feel any less tigerish than I ever did about what is at stake. The sheepishness is all about observing politicians' lack of commitment to anything but their own egos. It's such a weird life in politics, I think you have to be a weird kind of person to want to do it (there are exceptions of course, as there are to everything).
I loved the picture of the sheep, along with this post!
I always vote tactically, too. Though I'd be puzzled as hell about what to do in this election, if I was a voter in the UK. I guess it sort of boils down to how much damage you think the Tories could do while Labour regroups.
Voting has been really easy in US national elections, recently :-)
Tony Blair has been a real disappointment. After September 11 he gave a beautiful speech that made me wish he were our president (not to trade--I wouldn't wish GWB on anyone). Here was someone who could defend civilization and remain civilized. But instead taking the lead, he became the sheep who followed Bush into Iraq. The best outcome for the British elections (in my opinion) would be for a coalition of antiwar Labourites, Liberal Democrats, and Greens to come together. I doubt that will happen. Like celine, I would hate to see the Tories win as a result of progressives withholding their votes from Labour. I wish the best for you.