It has been a year since I last wrote on this blog. There are no excuses. However, I am now studying politics at university and I am excited to resurrect this blog!
The content may be slightly different. I am going to A LOT of free events with guest speakers, M.P’s, editors, journalists, broadcasters, general other clever people, and I am going to be reviewing and commenting on them. Maybe I could provide a new perspective… or at least roast them well…
Also, I may just post random current affairs things because why aren’t we talking about Myanmar, Somalia and Venezuela?
So here it is, I have finally euthanised the decaying corpse of blog that was here before and am now resurrecting it. Hopefully it will last longer than a few months this time.
Donald Trump is President. Be angry. Be shocked. But become mobilised.
I am not about to say that fear is the greatest weapon in politics or even the most dangerous. Politics of fear is something we have seen utilised over many political campaigns recently including Brexit and the US Presidential Election.
Donald Trump used fear to pry on vulnerable people in society who feel alienated from liberalism and the political establishment. Hillary Clinton represents both of those things. Trump became a voice for people who in recent years have not been the focus of politics. White people, low income workers, men- as politics begins to focus on the equality of minorities, the already established demographics become alienated and want someone to give them back the focus. Trump did that, and what’s more Trump shifted the blame of these peoples problems on to the demographics who have been gaining political attention: immigrants, racial minorities, religions. Trump scared these people into blaming others, turning on their neighbours, and voting for him.
Now it’s time to scare Trump. This is how.
The most powerful weapon in politics is hope. Optimism is what causes change, pessimism causes moans of “well there’s nothing I can do, it will always be like this”. Trump wants to divide people, turn them against each other, creating a fractured society where people have to rely on him. However, at this difficult time if we fight against this, unite with Republicans, unite with Democrats, unite with all races, religions, sexualities, genders; if we unite in hope we can overcome hate.
Trump is expecting to rule over a divided world. If we show him we are united, we are hopeful for our futures and our children’s futures, we will not let someone turn us against each other, we can cause real change irrespective of political division.
While this may sound good in theory I expect some people may want an action plan, here are some ideas:
1. Community outreach: whether it’s creating a youth group, opening a soup kitchen, or just holding a street party, get to know your community and realise we aren’t so different.
2. Political protest: while I believe we must now respect Trump’s presidency, I do not believe we must respect all of his proposals. If he is preaching hate, protest with love.
3. Analyse your values: how do you teach your children to behave? Sharing, kindness, compassion are all universal things we teach our children. Remember that when dealing with others.
4. Research: in many elections and referendums statistics get thrown around ridiculously. Research them, find out the truth.
5. Don’t be scared: Be optimistic.
Simply, stay optimistic, believe in change and know that there are more good people in the world than bad. Scare Trump into working for us.
Our generation has never been as engaged with voting in the way older generations have. Which is sad because it means politicians target policies at older people and ignore us because they think we are too lazy/uninterested/busy having sex and taking drugs to go out and vote. While it shouldn’t be our responsibility to fix the fact that we are often alienated by politicians, it has now become infinitely important for us to fix this ourselves.
Hope causes change: What I love about us is that we are optimistic and hopeful and more tolerant than other generations. We aren’t cynical yet. We still (just about) believe that we can be the next Steve Jobs or the next Scarlett Johansson or the next PM and I don’t think we understand how powerful this is. Optimism and a hope for a better future is what causes this to happen. We have this. We are an optimistic generation. Cynicism or pessimism breed thoughts such as “ah well, there’s nothing we can do to fix it” or “it won’t make a difference” but optimism encourages the complete opposite. We believe we can change the world so we do.
“Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that do” maybe Steve Jobs?
The more we positively impact politics, the more politics will positively impact us: It shouldn’t work this way but it does. It’s become so common for politicians to be focused more on their careers than on their constituents and very often they will target policies to those who are more likely to vote.
CASE STUDY: The General Election 2015
As you can see almost 80% of people aged 65 and over voted in the last general election compared to only 43% of 18-24 year olds. Compare that to this table which broadly outlines the policies that would primarily impact those age demographics.
It’s not surprising that the majority of parties have more policies (and positive policies) directed towards the pensioners because they are more likely to vote. Therefore, political parties gear policies to persuade them to vote for their party as it seems crucial to gain the support of the older generation in order to win.
Therefore, if our generation could be depended on to go out and vote in an election, we would be more likely to have positive policies aimed at us in order to entice us. I totally understand many of us may argue this shouldn’t be how politics should work and I agree but it’s one way we can begin to get our voices heard.
Which leads me on to…
We have a powerful, united voice: I saw this so clearly during Brexit. Our generation completely united behind the remain campaign regardless of many other differences. For the first time in my life I saw us engaged and debating. My social media was filled with the voices of my friends, many of whom I would never have expected to join the debate. It was amazing to see and in the bleak days after the referendum result it was the one positive I found myself being drawn back to. During campaigns that tried to divide us, our generation stood together and we proved what we can do.
We must now utilise that strength, engagement and unity and build on what have begun to achieve. We shouldn’t be forgotten because of our age and we certainly shouldn’t be underestimated. We are as important as any other voter. We are them.
North Korea is the most fascinating political landscape that exists currently. It’s so alien to me, living in the west, to think that there are people living under a communist- dictatorship on the same planet at the same time as me. Communism seems so outdated and even in China we see a communist-style regime that has fused with capitalism. This makes North Korea seem even more interesting.
It’s so hard to be able to explain the politics of North Korea; mainly because the people themselves don’t appear to understand them and so it becomes near impossible for an outside source. We hear fractured stories from disgusting human rights abuses to trivial tourist reports without really knowing anything about the country. Where is the money for it’s lavish water parks coming from? If there are no human rights abuses why is the country locked down? All we really know is the form of politics being pumped through North Korea is labelled ‘Juche’ but no one in North Korea or the west seems to really know what that means. This is seen so clearly in Álvaro Longoria’s ‘The Propaganda Game’ (an amazing, impartial documentary- it’s on Netflix). But the only thing that is really obvious through the uncertain landscape of North Korea is manipulation and misinformation.
Many people like me, who have grown up in the west, instantly think of propaganda when we hear the words ‘North Korea’. We recall images and videos of men and women sobbing and wailing at the death of Kim Jong-il and massive golden statues with huge parades saluting them. Yet, then we have to question why we see this. How much of this footage is twisted or accompanied with exaggerated claims by the western media. In a sense we have a propaganda war. North Koreans still believe it was the USA who initiated the Korean War and in the west we are led to believe Kim Jong-un watched as his uncle was executed by vicious dogs. Both of these examples are untrue. Both highlight the strange, warped propaganda war we are currently living in. I honestly don’t know what’s going on. Is North Korea as bad as we are led to believe? I think it probably is. But then when we are faced with constant manipulation from all sides it becomes harder to take any news we receive about North Korea seriously.
While this may be a specific example focusing on North Korea, this highlights such an important issue that relates back to British politics too. We, as a public, are not taught to be critical of mainstream media, leadership figures or politicians. It became so evident during ‘Brexit’ that we were fed manipulated facts and even lies (cough cough NHS claim) by both sides of the campaign. We need to fix this and what is even more frustrating is that it’s so easy to fix.
Question why somebody in a position of power, whether that be politics or media, says what they do. What do they gain by saying this? How does it make them appear? These really basic questions expose motives and consequently stop us from being fed propaganda and false information.
In the west we are lucky to have education that isn’t influenced directly by the state in the way it is in North Korea. We are not indoctrinated from a young age. We must use this privilege to expose propaganda. Question everything. Maybe we can even begin to help the people of North Korea who are often forgotten behind the worlds political fascination.
Community is inherent to survival. We constantly look to surround ourselves with others, we want love and companionship and someone to look after us. At its core this is community. Community comes in many different forms and on varying scales but perhaps the most prevalent in the political landscape is the communities that are founded by location. Neighbourhoods of people who connect because they share a post code or street name, or importantly for politicians, a constituency.
My personal experience of community is diverse but limited. I’ve lived in two places in my life. One being a small market town around 45 minutes outside of London and the other being its polar opposite: London. In the small town I grew up in you would expect to see at least 5 people you knew on any given visit to the town centre. In London it’s felt like some miracle feat the 3 times I’ve bumped into someone I know. In this small town there was a sense of community but it wasn’t exactly friendly. It was built on superficiality and judgement of what car you were driving; what you were wearing; even what time your neighbours saw you open your curtains at. It’s so weird but I have very vivid memories of being maybe 6 years old and my mum or dad setting an alarm at 8am to get out of bed, go downstairs and open the curtains, only to then return to bed and sleep until 11am. This epitomises the town I grew up in. It’s predominately white, middle-class and rightwing and I never felt comfortable of everyone being so critical of everybody else. London, however, is the complete opposite. I could walk to the shops in my pyjamas and no one would care. Yet, because of this, London can feel really lonely at times- mainly because the reason no one is judging you is because they don’t care about you and we, as humans, like to be cared about. This is why healthy, safe communities are so important and I believe politics and politicians are at the heart of shaping them.
Gentrification, crime and ‘politics of fear’ are 3 major causes why communities are fracturing at the moment. Gentrification sees the import of wealthy foreign investors who force house prices up and displace the current residents; crime causes residents to distrust their neighbours; and the ‘politics of fear’ mentality that has been spread (especially since Brexit) has led to a huge increase in hate crimes in communities of different cultures. I think all of these causes must be fixed by politicians to avoid the continued dispersion of communities and I will voice my opinions on how to fix them specifically in later blog posts.
However, at the core of all of these reasons is the fact communities are fracturing because of differences.
Frequently people are quick to judge and ignore anyone who thinks or is different to them. But look at the role models we have. Too often in parliament we see politicians refusing to listen and admit when they are wrong. We see two sides of politics divided and we, as a public, begin to reflect those differences in our society. Politicians must be the ones to change this. Politicians such as Jeremy Corbyn try to bring a kinder, fairer politics into the House of Commons and while I admire him for doing so it must be utilized further. How can we expect to create tolerant, understanding and diverse communities without politicians demonstrating this themselves. Even looking internally into political parties I see fractions. Politicians looking to sabotage and degrade other politicians when we should be showing the world of politics parties which have wide, varied ranges of people and views that can work harmoniously and can unite. This is what the political parties and communities in London and beyond absolutely must have in common: people of all ethnicities, ages, genders, political leanings, who unite over the basic impulse to create a better, fairer, more united society. In the EU referendum, massive divides were seen between rich and poor and young and old. Only by showing communities that we are similar can we begin to unite them. Every human wants affordable rent and public transport; every human wants access to free healthcare; every human wants to live in a safe, secure community. Yet only by highlighting these similarities can we begin to achieve this and unite communities.
And yet there is still a miscommunication between politicians and communities. We see politicians only involving in our communities for photo opportunities and to gain support or on the other hand, we don’t see them at all. Not only do we need politicians to show us examples of community within their own environments, we need them to extend this into their constituencies. I want to see my local MP in my local Nandos. I want to talk to my local MP in the queue at Sainsbury’s. I want to feel like I live in the same community as my MP. This is crucial to making a lonely city or a judgemental town feel welcoming, safe and like home. Once this example is set we can encourage residents to be proud and to care about their neighbourhood, we can create neighbours who watch out for potential intrusions instead of judging the time some curtains are opened. We can create communities. Our MP’s must be supportive and modelling of this though, after all, we are them.