Friday, January 11, 2008

Electoral Politics Friday 11 January

It's going to be a long year in electoral politics. There's an election in NZ, an election in the US, possibly even an election in Britain. Unless I somehow limit myself I could spend every day making fun of the awful things New Zealand politicians say (Judith Collins and Sue Kedgley I'm looking at you) or pointing out how far right the US Democratic candidates are (none of them would be the most left wing person in the National party caucus). That's not what I think matters in politics, I think what matters in politics is resistance.

I'll still criticise government actions every day of the week. But the shit that comes out of politicians mouths while campaigning, and the promises they make - that's not that important. This is particularly true in America where elections have reached their baroque period - very intricate affairs that don't reference anything outside of themselves. It makes them oddly fascinating, which is why I will be following it, but not a place where progressives, let alone radicals, can expect to get change.

So to kick off my new tradition I will say Shut Up Gloria Steinem.

I'd also like to recommend a fantastic talk by Gary Younge Katrina to Obama: Black Leadership in the Post Civil Rights Era. Gary Younge is black and lived and started writing in Britain, but now he lives in America and is the Guardian correspondent. Any of his stuff is well worth checking out (he wrote a wonderful book about travelling in the path of the Freedom Riders). This talk looks at some of the issues discussed in this thread and Grace Boggs post. I should warn peoplethat the questions are of the sort that will have you reaching for your taser,* but Gary Younge answers them brilliantly.

* Remember that much publicised film of someone being tasered at a John Kerry rally? My friend Larry argued that if tasers do exist there are much worse uses for them than stopping people who ask ridiculously long, annoying, self-important questions at public meetings. I was initially shocked by his callousness, but have since through a few public meetings and became almost convinced.

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