Be warned, very muddled and somewhat naive/in process thoughts follow.
Growing up I was always a bit of a conservative optimist. I had faith in the police, I had faith that my government was about looking after my interests, although not always at the expense of others, the glass ceiling didn't really exist, and that change was not necessarily a good thing. Maybe this is because I am white, male and middle class. And in theory, there was no limit to what I could achieve. Don't get me wrong, I regard being white, male and middle class as something positive and I am not ashamed of my roots. I am proud of who I am and where I come from, but I am becoming aware of how much my origins have coloured my view of my world. Turning thirty is a bit late to do this, but better late than never...
To some extent, I have to believe that some of this is still true. I believe that human nature is enduring and that most people will, in times of trial, act for the best of all of us. I have to believe this as to believe otherwise it gets a little too scary.
Somewhere in the late nineties I lost much of the conservative streak. I think a lot of it was due to being at Cityside Baptist Church with such friends as Murray Sheard, Simon Manning, Malcolm McKinley, Sarah and Craig O'Brien amongst others. I'm not sure where the rest of it went.
Living in Britain, there is no doubt in my mind which way the majority of us would vote if we could vote in Tuesdays election. We'd be voting for John Kerry and there's no doubt that George Bush is the devil incarnate. I watched a television program tonight that was presented by John Snow, a senior journalist at Channel 4 in the UK. The gist of the program was that it's money that buys the White House, rather than manifesto, personality, integrity... There's an element of 'No shit, Sherlock' in that thesis. Sure, the other things help, but if you can get a lot of money, you can make yourself look better, or, more importantly, make your opponent look bad. Watching the program prompted a few responses from me. There was a certain amount of dismay, and 'I knew it!', but at the minute, the two most enduring responses are as follows:
Firstly, it's a free market, so if I have money, there's no reason that I can't get on in this action. Which in return prompted the response of 'just how free is it'. Sure, I believe that if you have the drive, the creativity, the ingenuity etc, you can make it rich. But I think at the moment there are two fundamental flaws in that idea. The first flaw is that there is the base assumption that we all sunscribe to the doctrine ofprosperity, or the great american dream. The second flaw is that I don't believe that the market is entirely free. I am beginning to think that those with the most money are trying to control the market and limit entry into it. Witness Microsoft and it's approach to Netscape etc. However, I am willing to counter this my using the same industry to demonstrate it's not entirely closed. The amazing growth in dot coms etc made a lot of new rich people (as well as a lot of very rich and then very poor people). So the market can be entered into by 'common people'. I'm not an economist, and I wonder if it hasn't always been like this, from the building of the British rail network and East India Company to the telecommunication industry today. Ian, if you're out there, you got a Masters in Finance, help me out here!
Secondly, I started to wonder how exposed I am to liberal media and reporting in the UK. I am a Gaurdian (the spelling is an in joke) reader, and a BBC watcher. The BBC getting the nickname of Baghdad Broadcasting Corporation during the second Gulf War because they were percieved as being anti-american, and I will avoid the Telegraph and Mail at all costs. And then we start getting into the whole problem of what is truth, and where is the spoon and then I feel the need for a lie down. Post modernism be damned, all I want is to get an objective viewpoint and that seems impossible!
To borrow a song title from eighties christian songwriter and satirist, Steve Taylor, it's harder to be liberal than not to.
And then it turns out that no senator in history has raised as much money for his election campaigns as John Kerry.