Monday, January 30, 2006

Seeing the positive

Check out Dantallion for a great post about the difference between Anti-Americanism and not supporting the current administration. It is a gentle reminder that every time Bush causes me to jump up and down, swear loudly and shake my head in despair I should remember the 49% of the country did not vote for the deluded dumbo.

Dantallion is writing from a Canadian perspective and, rightly, notes that there is little adult debate, but plenty of simple polarisation where the “If you’re not with us, you’re against us” mentality always wins over. Adults should be able to recognise that a disagreement about one issue doesn't (always) mean you disagree with everything else someone stands for or believes in. The war with Iraq has contributed to my annoyance with America – but it is the administration and its supporters who have pissed me off, not the whole country. I know that the arrogance Bush displays is unbelievable and it belies any pretence at social justice or democratic freedoms, but noit all Americans stand for the same things.

I suppose this has come home to me when someone asked how I would vote in the next election. I have voted labour ever since I could vote; in fact I am still a member of the Labour party. If there was an election tomorrow I couldn't vote conservative and the Lib-Dems are in such disarray at the moment that I am still not convinced they can run the country. It would be easy to not vote Labour when faced with Blair's increasing arrogance and apparent betrayal of the values he once stood for. What stops me is recognising what the party has done that was important for me: repeal of section 28; equal age of consent; civil partnerships and the recent change to allow same-sex couples to adopt together, rather than as an individual. These are things that, as a gay man, have made a real difference to my feeling of inclusion in society and gone a long way towards tackling homophobia and discrimination. Of course these prejudices still exist, but we are now living in a society were young people are growing up to see gay relationships as a reality for many people and an increasing acceptance that diverse relationships have a positive contribution to society. I know we are not living in a utopia, but things have definitely got better.