As you may know, there will be a British general (meaning United Kingdom wide) election on May 7. We will shortly find out if Prime Minister David Cameron (who heads a coalition government led by his Conservatives allied with a smaller “centrist” party called the Liberal Democrats), will run the British government for another five years, or if there will be a new prime minister (who would most likely be Labour opposition leader Ed Miliband). Currently, polls seem to indicate that it’s “too close to call.”
I don’t vote here in the United Kingdom, although I hope to someday after I become a British citizen. However, as a taxpayer, I feel I’ve got a right at least to a modest opinion. But I’m not sharing that here, and you probably don’t want to hear it anyway.
That’s always the thing, isn’t it? Everyone has an opinion, and some out there scream their views louder than the rest of us. Whatever mine is it matters no more than yours, and I guarantee it would have to disappoint some of you.
And why should I do that? I write novels; I’m not here to flap my mouth partisan politically. And I seriously doubt anyone’s vote has ever been altered by a blog post or a tweet.
I suspect that I may have annoyed some of you just by sharing an illustration of the current President of the United States. That’s not my intention. Rather it’s merely to remind us that there was also a time, for instance, when we could barely imagine a world without Clinton (Bill), Chirac, Major, Blair, Yeltsin, and so on.
Yet while of course politicians change, the arguments are always much the same. Writing historical (romantic) fiction, I do have some fun slipping those “old days” into the novels here and there. For example, there may be some leader we admire:
“A biography of our new president!” she exclaimed. “I remember you had the book on de Gaulle,” she noted. “You can practice some French reading this. Look inside. Read the first page.”
She had inscribed it to him. Fearful of making a mess of the pronunciation, he read silently what she had written: “Dear James, A metre, impérativement dans ta bibliothèque!” James felt confident enough to read the concluding part aloud: “Vive Jacques Chirac! Love Isa.”
I’ve found also – again, perhaps like you – that even among good friends almost no one ever really changes anyone else’s mind politically. Debating politics is like debating religion. Argue too stridently and all you’re probably going to achieve is ruin your friendship.
Still, now and then among friends, don’t we all drop in a few lines at each other quietly?:
Hearing the arising exchange, and knowing Valérie rarely discussed Lebanon and the Middle East, Natalie and Béatrice hustled back to the lounge. Isabelle and Stéphane were already listening to Valérie and James talk.
Sometimes, we may also joke about our (perhaps vast) differences:
Béatrice laughed. “One of your big dreams! But of course they will be thinking you speak to me to help America? I promise when they come for to arrest me, I will say you have changed my mind! I shall tell them, ‘I love Bill Clinton!’”
Among those we know well and trust over a lifetime, while our differences may “bubble” to the surface clearly now and then, we probably know when to stop:
“You’ve never been to America? Chirac’s visiting America and meeting Clinton,” Lena added. “Saw it on the news.”
“Oh, yes, our great leader,” Béatrice scoffed.
Unsure if it had been a particularly good idea to bring them together, looking on Isabelle noted, “He is our president.”
“No, he is your president,” Béatrice unsurprisingly took the opposite view. “Mitterrand was much better.”
“Oh, he just died, didn’t he?” Lena asked.
“Yes,” Isabelle confirmed. “I wish to say nothing bad about the dead.”
I also believe that (here’s the former academic in me dribbling out) for many politics is a lot like sports. If we think about elections at all, we want “our side” to win. Winning “validates” our view of the world, we feel, whereas defeat is depressing:
“We’re going to get killed,” Natalie smiled. “John Major. Hapless. The left have some guy named Blair leading them. He’s lots like Clinton.”
The latest British installment is nearly upon us: Cameron, Miliband, Clegg, Farage, Sturgeon, Bennett, etc. If you’re in the UK and have more than had enough of electioneering seemingly all over the place, just hang on a few days’ longer. It’ll be over soon. 😉
Have a good Tuesday, wherever you are in the world. 🙂