Political ideology can be such a crock of shit.
This thought crossed my mind enough times in the past twenty-four hours that I thought I should write it down.
Politicians often present their fundamental worldviews as though they are coherent, yet it’s so notable how so little of it makes sense. I don’t particularly like the idea of the government preaching every nuance of morality or sticking their noses into people’s lives. So, I’m on the right, you might say, perhaps ever the libertarian right, yet the big issue these two things touch upon is abortion. Yet that makes no sense since pro-choice is often considered the liberal side of the argument. So where do I then stand?
It’s often noted how the left and right have the immigration debate inverted. If the Left really do want to protect jobs, they why don’t they oppose immigration? If the Right really want to promote a free market, employ people at the cheapest rates, then why don’t they advocate for more immigration? Again: no sense.
I suppose we could pick our way through so many of these and notice that they contradict the essential ideology of the person supporting or opposing them. Why is it that the more “moral” conservative party has, traditionally, more sex scandals than the Left? Why does the Left tend to have more financial scandals that bring politicians down? (The answer, I guess, is that politics attracts people who have conflicted psychologies on these issues – brought up poor, you have a great attraction to wealth; brought up in a strictly religious family, the more attracted you are to having a stranger sit on your face in a dungeon).
I don’t know where I’m going with this except to note how political views seem to be more about an unthinking tribalism (“I think X because I am Y…”) before I move onto the other big news from yesterday. I’ve been reading about the “Wolverine Watchmen”, this militia group that’s been arrested for planning to kidnap Michigan’s Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The story should be bigger than it is but, really, with a President running wild on the meds (and possible COVID pneumonia) there’s no room for the story. These loons were clearly motivated by Trump’s rhetoric of the last couple of years, his absolute loathing of Whitmer, and the way he’s been stoking the militias. I seem to have been writing about this for most of my adult life, long before Trump considered running for President. America has not yet come face to face with its militia problem. It still might not. It will continue to simmer until somebody has the guts to deal with it.
Why do I mention this? It’s their title. ‘Wolverine’ and ‘Watchmen’ are clearly derived from the comic books, which hints towards how American – and perhaps our own – politics have become infantilised in the last few decades. This is how we end up with two TV celebrities running the US and the UK, and why any debate seems only relevant once a celebrity has piped up about it. If you consume only a diet of Marvel movies and Hollywood blockbusters, is it any wonder if you also start to view politics so narrowly? This is the superhero morality I’ve written about before; the primitive sensibility we all share, whereby we want to grasp power for ourselves and impose our will on others. It’s fun to watch it play out over the course of a movie – even better when, like the recent Superman/Batman moves, the morality of Superman’s power was questioned – but it’s scary seeing it applied to real life.
Yet that’s what politics increasingly looks like. Democracy is a hard thing to argue because it produces moments, such as during our last parliament, where the process got in the way of the government enacting its business. “Democracy ain’t sexy” as I’m sure nobody has ever sung. Nobody was happy with that state of affairs, yet that unhappiness was perhaps a good expression of what democracy is about. It’s the ability to curtail the power of the executive.
I’m not sure that view is held too widely these days. There are more Wolverine Watchmen out there than we might expect.