Monday, September 29, 2008

It's a Political Circus

So I've been following the US elections the last couple of weeks, months even, and it strikes me like it's one big circus. The voters come to watch, the more sponsors the troop gets the more extravagant the display, the crowd either gets entertained or riled, and at the end of the performance, they go home and nothing changes.

That was nothing but a moment of suspended reality, where they toy with the idea of doing something crazy like voting for the opposite camp.

A republican (American) I spoke to recently agreed that at the end of the day, people vote on emotions, and candidates don't follow through with their campaign promises anyway. Sure the Democrats may be more pro-environment, pro-welfare type intervention for sectors like health and education, and anti-war, but in essence they won't change economic policies and the big businesses will continue to run the show they were before. Which means the same economic and social inequalities that are endemic in the current system (that, by the way, has endured since the 19th century) will persist and possibly widen with the added pressure of migration (both legal and illegal).

When Karl Marx spoke of the "Lumpen Proletariat" in 1848, he had no idea of the global scale it would take in modern civilisation. Our low-skilled migrant is the 21st century's Lumpen Proletariat

But let's not get carried away. Looking again at the Republican vs. Democratic candidate's stand on the rescue package for Wall Street to avert complete collapse of the US financial system, BOTH said they would support it. Both say that they have proposed different changes to is and different approaches. I've been digging deep to understand what this difference is, and the only difference I can really find is the rhetoric.

The theatrics of politics is something that never fails to amuse, maybe because we are so starved of it here in Singapore. Here we skip to the chase. We know nothing's going to change anyway so why bother with the performance?

But what's even scarier is the prevalence ideology has over the choices an individual makes. We may call ourselves republicans or democrats, liberals or conservatives, but if we dig deep into what these ideological groups really represent, you'll encounter many overlaps, and these groups we claim allegiance to suddenly spread into a spectrum of conservatives and liberals within each group.

Should we then be so quick to claim allegiance to a euphemism that is a social construct born out of selective understanding?

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