Overwhelmed...Politics 101

Jaime - posted on 09/04/2010 ( 6 moms have responded )

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I find politics extremely overwhelming and I always have. I think the feeling of being overwhelmed is in large part due to the fact that I don't fully grasp the overall political agenda of each competing party. I live in Canada, and I understand the basics of the liberals, conservatives and NDP's and such, but in all true honesty, when it comes time to vote, I am at a complete loss for where I stand on issues concerning my and other countries. I do vote, and I know that voting is important, but I find it difficult to see the merit in each campaign amidst the "he said this" and "she said that" and "he supports this and it's bad" and so on.



Here's what is also confusing for me: Keeping the left and right straight and who belongs where and with what candidate on which platform. I'm being sincere, because I think that I am one of many moms that probably have a true interest in politics but not a hope in hell of affecting these great conversations with any wisdom due to a lack of true understanding. Or maybe it's just me.



I might sound like an idiot, but I'm gonna post this conversation and hope that you awesome ladies will jump in and give it to me straight.

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Johnny - posted on 09/04/2010

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No one really knows what is going on, in my humble opinion. A good portion of politics is bluster. Think of how often you hear a politician spout off on some issue or another, and then it later turns out that they clearly had no idea what they were talking about. Politicians have aides and policy analysts to help them out and they still don't have a clue half the time. So how would the everyday person who has a life be expected to know what is going on.

I'm a politics junkie. I've been interested since I was a kid and my family discussed it at dinner every night. I volunteered on my first campaign in 1984 when I was 8 helping my parents distribute flyers do defeat the Conservative incumbent. In school I studied sociology and social work, with a focus on development theory and political economy. But I would say I only know what is going on about 30% of the time.

As for knowing who stands for what, I often find that a bit murky. I generally know which party has which platform, and the individual candidates are pretty much expected to follow those platforms. Sometimes though, the platforms surprise me because they don't make that much sense. Really, they are just designed to lure in certain votes from certain specific constituencies (like how the NDP is currently trying to lure rural voters by supporting the end of the gun registry when traditionally the NDP has been pro-gun control). I've also always found that no matter what they say, when elected the story ALWAYS changes. Sometimes to fit in with the reality of the situation (like not cutting taxes because the government truly can not afford to do it). Sometimes simply because they lied to get elected.

So the lack of understanding you feel that you have may actually be less than you perceive. Perhaps it feels like you don't get something that makes sense when it actually doesn't make sense at all and you really do understand. Does that make sense? lol.

That's Canadian politics. It is very policy oriented much of the time. Our issues are not that glamorous or divisive. We don't really argue the moral issues as much. I can not remember the last time anyone ever discussed a politician's religion or personal life all that much here (unless they broke the law). So we kind of have to have some grasp of the policy issues that are out there to really understand where the politicians stand and where we each stand. That's the hard part. I know I don't have time to keep myself abreast of all the mundane details of managing the country, province, and city where I live.

As for American politics, it seems much more like a blood sport to me. The issues are insanely divisive, left and right can be very extreme and loud (although I think most Americans are actually quite in the middle) There seems to be a whole lot of personal attacks from both sides, lots of heavy moral issues, and the everyday policy issues get pushed aside for more exciting and controversial topics. That's my take on it anyway, and in my opinion, it does make American politics a bit more fun to debate.

I know a bit about British politics, mostly because we do watch the BBC news. And a smidge about Australia because they cover it a bit on the BBC. But aside from that, I don't know much about other places other than the very brief snippets I get on the international news.

Johnny - posted on 09/04/2010

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Well, Dana, you do seem fairly liberal, lol. So I really don't think you'd be much of a conservative voter. However, that is mostly on social issues. I don't exactly know where you stand on the big ones, although I do know that you support gay rights, and the conservative platform does include eventually eliminating gay marriage (by using the not-withstanding clause of the charter of rights & freedoms - which is never going to actually happen) But anyway, if you tend to be supportive of people having the right to live life they way they choose for themselves (within reason obviously) and things like pro-choice, pro-equality, supportive of religious freedoms & equality, the separation of church & state, etc. Then you'd probably be a social liberal. However, in the case of law and order issues, some social liberals might be very enthusiastic on strong punishments for criminals while others believe in rehab and stuff like that. Like I said, it really is kind of murky.

Some people are socially liberal and fiscally conservative. They do not agree with governments running deficits, they prefer lower taxes (within reason to allow the government to fulfill its basic responsibilities-although then the argument starts as to what is a basic responsibility), and generally favor a business model of running the government. People who are more liberal economically may also support strong fiscal measures to keep the government from accruing debt but choose different measures to do so. The conservatives often consider themselves the "fiscally responsible" party but ran up huge deficits under Brian Mulroney, while the Liberals who didn't have the reputation of strong financial thinkers actually eliminated the deficits & brought down the debt under Jean Chretien & Paul Martin. So again, it's not really so easy to draw clear straight lines.

Just in case it is confusing (because I always struggle with these concepts):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deficit

I would have attached the party platforms, but I read them and oddly enough, they all say basically the same thing, so really, it would just add to any confusion. It's funny, despite the conservatives being the right wing party and the NDP being the left, they seem to have the same "founding principles". To me that just suggests that it's all really bullshit.

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Jaime - posted on 09/05/2010

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Thanks Carol...I feel better knowing I'm not completely out of the loop. I believe I also fall on the liberal side more so than the conservative...but the jury's still out for me on that one.

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Thanks so much....I had actually just found the first website you attached on my own. This stuff is complicated. I guess I'll find out more about myself by participating in these debates. Thanks for having me.

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Ok, so this may seem like a stupid question but how do I figure out where I stand? I'm pretty sure I'm not conservative in other aspects of life so I'm guessing I won't think conservatively with respects to politics. My thinking tends to usually be very liberal but I wonder how this translates into politics. Is there some way I can figure this out? My head is spinning from all this allergy research, diet adjustments etc. so perhaps I'll do some research next week.

Thanks Carol.

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