Peter Bucklitsch: A voice for the many?

Since posting an open letter (email, in fact) yesterday, I have been trawling my way through threads of comments on largely followed Facebook pages concerning the migrant crisis.

Since I was quick to infer that Bucklitsch does not provide a voice for the masses, I thought I would be greeted by heartwarming humanitarianism; words invoking altruism and care. How wrong I was; some of the comments on these threads boiled my blood, pushing me to share yet another opinionated blog. Sorry.

So, Save the Children shared the following sponsored Facebook post: “Refugee children are fleeing bombs, bullets and torture in warzones like Syria, only to drown in European waters. We must stand together to stop this: donate now.”, followed by a link to donate and an image of a child crying, face in hands.

The responses were repulsively bigoted, and had very little humanity to be extrapolated. Here are some examples of these comments.

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So out of these comments, one of them commented on the bigotry of the overall thread (Kudos to you, Cat Hepple!). A few others commented on the charity’s processes of providing aid, and others on the earnings of the charity’s CEO. Overall, however, there is an overwhelming level of hate and anger towards the poor souls fleeing from war-torn Syria.

This made me question: Was the outrage against Peter Bucklitsch really as overwhelming as I originally thought?  Or were people scared to voice their support for him on the mostly-Liberal platform of Twitter? Or even, did those who support this side of the debate not see the tweet? Who knows.

Either way, I almost feel some kind of pity for Bucklitsch; he was voicing these opinions on a soapbox provided by an already-sneered-at political party. I feel as though this kind of opinion hides, cowardly, until they can strike on a large thread of comments and go nigh undetected. Or, wait until surrounded by those who agree with their opinion, and engage in groupthink tactics. Before I go on, I do not feel pity for Bucklitsch for his word choices, or even for his opinion being the opposite of mine. (His subsequent apology suggests he was sorry for himself, and not for those suffering, anyway!) I feel pity for him for being framed as the solo voice of disgust towards the migrant crisis. Maddeningly, and sadly, he is not. Those who support him are just not as vocal as he is.

These folk posting these comments are truly angry and hateful towards the migrants and the Muslim community. They do not feel any empathy, nor do they want them in ‘our’ country. Stick yourselves in these migrants’ shoes, you angry little humans. These migrants are angry little humans too – they too feel they are suffering through no doing of their own! The anger they feel, however, is not one borne of the want to protect what they already have. Instead, their anger comes from the loss of loved ones; the stigma attached to being a migrant; the war they have no part in pushing them out of their own homes. If you found yourself in that position, would you flee, and find your family a better life? Yes. You bloody well would.

The people who are so keen to support closed borders often pull out the WW2 card. Let me argue, that if these kind of bigoted opinions circulated in the 1940s, we would never have risen against Fascism. The hundreds of thousands of Jews that the UK took in as refugees, fleeing the persecution of Nazis, were all in a similar state of terror as the Syrian migrants.

Peter Bucklitsch may not be such a rogue voice afterall. Maybe he has the guts to share his opinions more widely, and several people with public platforms available to them are not as willing to share their similar views; we don’t know. I believe that after seeing these comments on Facebook, maybe the cries for humanitarian aid are louder than the sickeningly dangerous rhetoric, simmering away in the background. I am concerned for the atmosphere the migrants will face once they reach safety in Europe.

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An Open Letter to Peter Bucklitsch

This open letter is in response to Bucklitsch’s tweet, regarding Aylan Kurdi (3 years old) who was drowned and washed ashore trying to flee to Europe:

“The little Syrian boy was well clothed & well fed. He died because his parents were greedy for the good life in Europe. Queue jumping costs.” – 3rd September 2015, 1:53pm.

His Twitter account has since been deleted.

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To: peter@wimbledonukip.org
Subject Line: I SUPPORT YOU
—————

Hi Peter.

Just kidding, I definitely don’t support you; I just really wanted to trick you into reading this email. Please do continue, though! I can’t imagine that, as a man of politics, you won’t face the repercussions of your little twitter escapade earlier today!! Imagine if you just tried to shut down your twitter, for example, and run away from the prospect of being held accountable to your opinions being voiced!!
I’m a human being, who is also a postgraduate in International Crisis Management, so before I proceed with this email, I want to just quickly suggest you don’t waste your time pointing out the ‘practicalities’ and ‘impossibilities’ of providing help to the migrants fleeing to Europe. I already understand this very thoroughly and I also understand there is a lot more that can be done. Please don’t suggest otherwise; I know you’re lying.
I just wanted to write to you about another human being!! A family of them, in fact. These ones doesn’t have a postgraduate degree (that us Westerners know of anyway) but one did lose his entire family, and knows a lot more than you and I about the migrant crisis. You also decided to comment on said human beings. So, just a quick question… which I will preface with my imploring you to watch the video below before you respond:
Guardian interview with Mr Kurdi
My question is: Is this the face of a greedy man?
I’d say, no, not at all.
After watching this, I just want to know… What were you thinking?! Are you a man, struggling with your own demons? If so, maybe consider not voicing your anything-but-compassionate (a light choice of wording) views on such a public platform! Get some help!! If this is the case, cease reading; consider this email almost a flow chart, in fact. Here, use this link, and look no further: http://www.itsgoodtotalk.org.uk/therapists If this is of no use to you, as part of your electorate I request that you please do read on.
If the case is not so (which I suspect, with a heavy heart), I have a second question. Do you truly believe that using the plight of a man (I would say “family” but this family is no more as you so heavy handedly pointed out) who has lost his entire kin in one moment will strengthen the support for leaving the EU? Do you honestly feel like such inhumane words have bettered your own career? (Which I can only imagine is what your aim was! If not, then even more shame on you – I shan’t even delve into the psychological considerations should you not be career chasing at the expense of a dead woman and her children).
Enjoy your privilege of a dinner, a warm bed, clean water, your loved ones, and living in the war-free zone of London. I would hope you maybe have a little cry over Twitter tonight; not because your responses are so angry, but because you have been a downright fool, and realise your repulsive views are not welcomed by the masses, and that you have in fact commented on the deaths of almost an entire family.
I’ll be sure to pop over to see you should you make any public appearances. I’d love to hear you speak. Don’t worry though; I promise not to treat you with the same disrespect you treated this broken family with, e.g. calling out disgusting comments in a public domain. However, as a man running for government, you must be held accountable for your words. Deleting your twitter does not work in shielding you from this democratic function.
I thoroughly look forward to your response.
With respect from one human to another,
Grace
(Also Privileged, MRes, BA Hons, and Just another bloody lefty.)

Are We Losing Ourselves in ‘The Other’?

miliband migration

There are so many people you hear lamenting the “loss of our jobs” to immigrants, who are often just seeking a better life for their selves and their families. Sensationalist headlines, suggesting British cultural traditions are being drowned out by ‘foreign’ celebrations. Word of mouth even, when people are asked, “why did you choose to vote UKIP?”, it will often be down to the want to keep our borders closed, and the ‘Other’ out.

But why? Why is there this fear, or rejection at least, or external cultures? What are people seeking to defend?

There’s a really funny Vice News article on what it is to be British. It’s so accurate of the Inbetweeners generation, and also proves that the patriotism here is often limited to extreme levels, seen in jest, or with concern. Our culture is not a ‘one size fits all’ culture. It’s an amalgamation of various influences; a melting pot of culture. British way of life is one which is built upon immigration. From Notting Hill Carnival to going for a curry and a pint, we are a country built upon the influence of immigration. Since the arrival of the Windrush in 1948, when the first large wave of Caribbean migrants arrived, Britain has been lucky enough to welcome migrants to our shores consistently, and grow from it.

Why should we allow people to come to Britain to seek asylum? This British culture that is feared to be lost or trampled upon by these overbearing cultures… What exactly is it? I can’t think of one British cultural tradition which runs deeply throughout the nation; especially one which is disappearing. I cannot think of one uniting understanding that holds together the British peoples.

Except one. Tolerance. We are a country of tolerance and pluralism. You could argue: ‘But this blog post suggests otherwise!’. This is not what I want to convey. I want to argue that we, Brits, are a lucky group of people, who are free and should be thankful we live in a place that people run to to be free. Our British culture is that of tolerance; we do not suppress women, with laws stopping them from driving, or forcing them to wear certain clothes. We do not prevent people from worshipping their god of choice. We do not restrict what language is spoken. We do not prevent families from having more than one child. We have a free press. We can travel the world. We are not at risk of state-enforced violence, or martial law. We have the freedom of movement throughout Europe. We have the freedom to vote who we wish to vote for. The list is extensive.

So I would like to argue – no. We are not losing ourselves in ‘The Other’. This may sound preach-y, but I fear sometimes we lose sight of the bigger picture and the global perspective is overshadowed by Daily Mail-esque scaremongering. We are instead growing, learning and adapting to live together. We are tolerant and respectful of individual rights. What we reject, is the loss of this freedom and plurality; not ‘foreign’ beliefs. Instead of rejecting ‘The Other’, we should encourage the understanding and tolerance that this country has begun to develop, since decolonising in the 1950-60s onwards. There obviously is still an awful lot more to be done; the West in general needs to enhance its understanding of other cultures, and that West isn’t Best. But in terms of the UK?

We can’t militantly argue that we are losing our Britishness, when really, it is a collective identity, formed by international movement and heritage. What is our own, and what should be defended, however, is our freedom and tolerance; we should be proud to be a place of asylum for those suffering elsewhere. We should embrace it and we should protect those who come to be safe. We are made up of ‘The Other’. There is no longer a binary argument surrounding this. Our overarching and sweeping culture is liberating and understanding.

We are not losing ourselves; we are gaining.

Intervention vs. Interference

Peace making. Peace building. Providing a helping hand. On a ‘totally amazing gap yahh’. However you look at it, Western involvement in other areas of the world is increasing. Intentions are good for the most part. At an individual level, when people sign up to go to an African country and build infrastructures, or irrigation systems, or work in a school, they do so because they want to provide any relief they can to a community that has little in the way of resources. At a much larger level, often, Western political forces get involved in conflict zones as a part of their own political agenda.

Liberal peacebuilding is a concept that is being highly contested by scholars as I type. Can liberalism exist alongside a notion of intervention? Debatable. The main foundations of liberalism denote that individual rights and cultures are fundamental creating a harmonious society. Whether or not intervention can even nod towards acknowledging existing traditions and individual rights is a tough one to answer. Creating a democratic environment in which people can flourish individually would be the argument that this is not, in fact, a contradiction of terms. However, I see the paradox as being that the concepts of ‘democracy’ and ‘liberalism’ are highly Westernised in how they are conceived. Why should local people in less powerful states be indoctrinated by Western values? Is democracy really what is the most effective method of building peace?

Imposing values which are alien to the local people can only cause friction. Often, there is a development of resentment towards those who are intervening, as there is little local understanding of what is important in the society. A rejection of the help is seen in West Africa now, as the Ebola crisis unfolds. Local people who are in small villages are having strangers in white biosuits turn up, with unknown accents, taking away their sick children away, and coming back with their lifeless bodies. Then, to add insult to this injury, the medical professionals are not allowing the grieving family to bury their loved ones in the traditional way that they are used to. Obviously, there is valid reasons for this, as the containment of Ebola needs to be prioritised. However, education is what is important. In order to meet in the middle, the Western intervening forces cannot solely provide a solution with a legitimate local understanding; local people need to have some kind of education in matters such as this, and local understanding should also be utilised. So, in this case, there is a ‘meet in the middle’ solution.

However, whether the notion of liberal peacebuilding is ideal or not is the main issue here. If women are second-class citizens in a village in Nepal, why is democracy considered to be the best solution for that village? Westernising the world is not the be all and end all for the world’s problems. Often as well, Western intervention is done with a hidden agenda of gaining a foothold in a place where potential interests lie. Again, with the Ebola crisis, there was no Western action until the fear of it hitting Europe was close to becoming a reality. Shouldn’t we see the world as a population of human beings, and if someone is in need, that is when to step in and give a helping hand? Although this is unrealistic, it is an attitude that could provide a less politically fuelled plan of action.

The overarching issue I have with the intervention vs. interference debate is the Western, mainly white superiority complex that is felt throughout the main actions that are taken. Why does it seem like a white person will step in to a project in, for example, Kenya, and bring a new hope to the community? Is it purely a selfish act of do-good-feel-good? Or is it genuine delusion that these short-term actions will make a real difference? The fact that there is a market for these sort of projects says a lot. Selling places on a volunteering project for white teenagers to go over and construct a poorly-built school that the villagers will only knock down and re-build with their own skills is evidence of the Western pedestal that we place ourselves on.

We do not know better; we know differently. The sooner we acknowledge this, the greater the improvements will be in our intervention at every level of scale. It is about communication, education and compromise. We cannot force one set of ideals upon an existing society. It simply will not work, and it does not work.

This is something to be continued, so keep an eye out if you’re interested.

Stars, Stripes, and Student Unions

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(Source: Flickr, user: houseofstone)

I am lucky enough to currently be in the States, visiting an old friend for a fortnight. I am residing in his apartment (flat) in Washington, D.C., along with his three roomies (flatmates), all of whom are college (uni) students.

D.C. is a hub for students aiming to forge their career on or through Capitol Hill. Politics is what this city thrives upon, and you can only walk a couple of blocks before you are reminded of that with banners, signs in peoples’ yards (gardens) or approached by Party members. However, what has really struck me is the difference in the politics of education.

Chatting to my friend (who does not attend college, but is a budding, and already pretty successful, entrepreneurial type – good job! Awesome!) and his housemates, it seems there are vastly different cultures and expectations surrounding attaining that ever-promising, sometimes-assumptive, degree.

Here in the States, college is not something one can just decide to partake in. Americans save from birth in order to send their child to college. College can cost anything in excess of $40,000, and the living costs are barely supported by student loans. Admittedly, this is similar to British students’ financial predicaments, however, this is heightened by the upfront costs tuition fees present here. The divide between the rich and the poor cannot be healed, unless education is made more accessible. Figures show that only 34% of families who are earning less than $35,000 can afford to save any money towards sending their children to college. This is juxtaposed against over 75% of families earning over $100,000 who have a savings fund. On top of this, college costs are continuing to rise, and vary greatly dependent on the ranking of the college in question. This is foundation enough to make the claim that the cycle is not easily broken. In the UK, however, it is much easier, (though admittedly not overly common) considering the tuition fees are not required up front. There is also a multiplicity of grants and bursaries available for people from less well off, or disadvantaged backgrounds.

Moreover, there is a greater focus upon employability and prospects. Of the students I have gotten to know in D.C., they all have internships and they are ones which provide worthwhile experience and hours. There is little in the way of photocopying and making coffee. My friends here go to work in their suits, commute to Capitol Hill, and come home having reviewed existing policies and researched new ones. The government website describes being a part of an internship as an opportunity to “experience the thrill and rewards” of their programmes. This is a stark contrast against my meeting with government recruitment staff at my university’s careers fair, who told me “apply, but it’s unlikely you’ll even hear back… a lot of people apply to these roles…”. True British encouragement, saturated with the characteristic pessimism that is to be expected… but not what you want to hear from a careers advisor.

Is this student employability heightened in America by the fact that they know these kids are coming out of “well-to-do” families? There are none of these disadvantaged kids running into roles at Capitol Hill, that could be coming into work at the House of Commons internship roles, purely because of the inaccessibility of the colleges here stops the ‘scallywags’ from breaking ranks. I know House of Cards is highly dramatised, but the mention of a “dead disadvantaged kid” being in the pocket of Frank Underwood just depicts the way that the poor in America are used as political tools – not as cogs in the machine.

Yeah, I know there is the No Child Left Behind programme in place, set up by good ole’ George W. Bush; it has however been argued that after 7 years of working on it, it has failed and should have the “plug pulled” on it. Plus, the programme is an educational based one – not a financial aid. Money is what makes America what it is today; however, owing to this, there are a lot of big holes in the net for people to slip through. The rejection of anything which can be construed as “Communist”, reminiscent of the Cold War fears in USA, is where America fails to help the needy. Obamacare was a potential breakthrough, but it was strongly battled against and was never absorbed into society like , for example, the NHS is and was. However, the difference is, the NHS was formed out of an era which demanded such a plan to be put in place after the suffering of the Second World War. Obamacare was forced into a society which strongly advocates each man for himself.

So, education in America is only really an available option to those whose bank balances can stretch to it. In the Land of the Free, you’re only really as free as Capitalism allows you to be. So, whilst there are benefits to being at an American college, such as the potential to get a decent internship which could actually lead into your career, your parents have to have made the money first, and in the case of Harvard and Yale, for example, made a fair few donations too, to butter up the admissions officers. An intelligent child from the back end of nowhere really has only got community college to fall back onto. The British university system has greatly reduced this from being an issue; student loans and bursaries are available, and there is a much greater acceptance in society of taxes going towards funds such as these. Equality of opportunity is a reality; or at least a developing one, anyway.

So, is the Land of Opportunity really all it sells itself to be?

I’m not a feminist, but…

Yeah yeah, we’ve heard it all before…

Well here goes my cliched turn: I am not a feminist in the sense of feeling that there is a superior sex. I am, however, a huge believer in equality. I feel as though a fair amount of feminists need to stop pushing for furthering “gender equality” to the point of making women the superior gender. Why be as bad as the force you’ve been fighting for a century? It makes no sense to me. I do appreciate the massive efforts that have been made in the past, e.g. women gaining the vote, and that kind of important progress. However, the real extreme feminists? No… Not for me. Just equality for all, please, and thank you.

So where am I heading? I went out for lunch last week with my grandmother, and we were catching up after me spending the last three months in Madrid. In passing, she mentioned that she was “pleased” that my ex-boyfriend and I had called it a day. When I asked why, she said, because “Men should be the main breadwinner”. My ex didn’t attend university, and coaches tennis, and I have aspirations to go to law school after graduating from Loughborough – so her logic is basic, but understandable. However, for the first time in my life, I felt a stir of irritation on behalf of my gender.

I suddenly felt that if my grandmother felt I should progress in my career, and education, but still felt I should be earning beneath my future husband/boyfriend’s salary, maybe feminism deserves a little more credit than I give it. She is 76 this week, and over the course of 50 or so years, obviously what I assume to be normal opinions have changed quite a lot. Despite this, I was still pretty cross that after all my hard work so far at ‘getting somewhere’, my grandmother would want me to marry someone who would ‘look after me’.

I don’t really have a point to make here, but I think that maybe Destiny’s Child deserve a little more recognition in careers lectures… Queen B is what is pulling me through.. That and wanting to be able to afford a Chanel bag eventually.

 

 

Loss of a Generation…

“Nick Clegg, we know you, you’re a fucking Tory too”

“Build a bonfire, build a bonfire, put the Tories on the top… Put the Lib Dems in the middle and we’ll burn the fucking lot”

These are chants I took great pleasure in bellowing at the student protests in 2011 in London, when Clegg broke his promise to Lib Dem voters, and bent over backwards for JustCallMeDave. The tuition fees rose enormously, tripling in numbers, despite Clegg’s promise that tuition fees would instead be abolished.

However, I now feel Lib Dems are just tainted. The catch-all, cartel parties that the ‘Big Three’ are nowadays have merged into one ‘blob’ of politicians, all of whom nobody trusts anymore. The Lib Dems are tainted by Clegg’s pathetic apology, and to Cameron’s great delight, are tainted by their desperation to get to power.

Ideology is out the window. Principles are out the window. Pragmatism is all important, but gaining votes matters more. Representational functions are becoming ever less vital, and parties are forgetting their true functions.

Thus, we come to the title: the loss of a generation. The Lib Dems were really and truly on the rise. Their power was going to grow steadily, and they could have become a more vital player in Westminster. However, the domino effect of their spineless actions has created a new problem: a generation of voters who will never vote Lib Dem, or at least whilst under Clegg, again.

I know for one I will never, ever vote for Nick Clegg. Lib Dems really have shot themselves in their metaphorical foot, and until tuition fees drop back down or they fuck off, they will never regain any dignity in the eyes of this generation.

A further effect from their inability to keep a promise, is the rise of more ‘out there’ parties, such as the BNP and UKIP. Not for one minute am I likening the two parties, however, it is undeniable that a selection of their votes have been protest votes.

In the local elections recently, UKIP did outstandingly well for their size and historical standing. However, they should not have done. The ‘Kippers cannot argue that they do not play to some extent upon people’s lack of knowledge of politics and the EU. In spite of this, admittedly, a few people do understand it. 

And so – this generation moves forward. It may be moving away from a three-party dominated system. However, I just found it striking that one little mistake on the part of the Lib Dems could lead to such a change in the political sphere in the UK. Of course, UKIP would argue, it’s just people coming round to their common sense, of course! Silly me…

Is Democracy A Paradox, Or Just Too “PC” Now?

Spending the hours I have between lectures watching The Daily Politics is a regular feature in my day to day life. Call me sad, call me boring, but nothing beats a little debate whilst kickin’ back with a roast beef sandwich and some Sunbites, sitting on faux leather sofas surrounded by my lazy housemates’ takeaway cartons. Whilst participating in said relaxation, a debate which really concerned me was brought up on the telly: EU funding of parties.

The funding of political parties by the EU in itself is a question I feel should be addressed briefly. Is it morally correct for parties to get money out of the tax payers’ pocket, paying for MEPs’ many formalities and privileges such as chauffeured cars? According to a Left-wing MEP, it is only 5p, per person, per year, which adds up to around £5b set aside for the EU. however, Liberal MEP Sarah Ludford, pointed out that the EU is undemocratic enough for us ‘normals’ when it comes to voting in representatives; why should that tax be taken? Anyway, I digress.

The point I was getting towards, was that it has now been suggested that the BNP and far-right parties lose their funding from the EU, dependent on Liberals, Socialist and Green MEPs voting results on the matter. Some French Fascist parties have in the past received around 300,000 Euros of EU cash. It has been pointed out that despite these parties only being small scale in their levels of representation, history cannot be ignored. Hitler, one of the world’s greatest opportunists, jumped onto the despair Germany was experiencing in order to gain momentum and power. Many countries in the EU are currently suffering forms of despair, which places them at risk of extremist parties.

In spite of all these concern, some people are raising the valid point that since the EU is supposedly a democratic institution, to deprive these far-Right parties of their funding is likened to taking away their voices. They have the rights to voice their opinions, and to stop them doing so is undemocratic. 

Interesting.

Whilst I completely understand where these people are coming from, voicing the ever-present voice of the ‘goodie’ MEP, it cannot be ignored that actually, there are two issues with this argument.

  1. The BNP and other Right-wing extreme parties would never, ever aid any other parties in this way unless it was for some form of gain for themselves. They use opportunities such as these in order to make themselves look more ‘human’, and try to gather more support and sympathy.
  2. The most important area I want to cover: to fund these parties is to fund a break down in democracy.

I think it is time the EU stopped seeing everything as black/white/right/wrong. There can be no yes or no answer to this dilemma. Democracy itself is not paradoxical; MEPs are just too  concerned with providing the appearance of democracy. The solution is to set up a committee of some form, who decide which parties get the funding according to their aims and manifestos. Should the party be deemed to be aiming to deliver a democratic society, despite their political aims, then they should be funded. (Well, there shouldn’t be any funding but that’s for another time…). Likewise, if the party does not aim to deliver democracy, e.g. the BNP, then they should not be funded on the grounds that they are not working towards maintaining and bettering democracy within the European Union.

And before it is mentioned, it is wrong to suggest that these parties are being penalised for not agreeing with the views of the majority in the EU… UKIP are active and funded within the EU, are they not? They are actively working towards dissolving the institute altogether, so don’t use that excuse with me, you black-shirted right-wingers!!

Fearing the Unknown: The Greatest Downfall?

As a student at a highly esteemed sports university, there are a vast amount of opportunities to get involved with. There are endless societies to join, vast sporting opportunities to grab a hold of, and a tonne of committees to run for. In spite of all this, I take part in nothing extra-curricular. I am a keen fitness freak, regularly going to the gym and running. I used to play hockey for the town I live in in Kent. I used to work for my school’s newspaper. I used to run district cross-country. I was the house captain in sixth form. However, none of this attitude has reflected across to my time at university.

Some may say that it is a huge mistake on my part.  I don’t feel I fit in very easily to university life as it is, as I am not a heavy drinker, I am nonplussed by clubbing, and I don’t wander the campus in trackies and a gilet. I am very shy with new people, and I regularly say things that come out awkwardly and I know the taste of my toes all too well. However, the enthusiasm that these organisations have for gaining new faces sometimes has the opposite to it’s desired effect; for me, definitely, anyway.

The idea of socials makes me want to curl up; I can’t bear the thought of being drunk and making a fool of myself as I do with my friends I have made in halls (which took a long enough time as it is). I am far too scared I won’t be able to keep up with the copious drinking, especially since I measure in at only five foot, meaning I am quite the lightweight, by nature. The idea of trying to force my way into an already established clique terrifies me as well, but the biggest fear of all is the fear of the unknown.

I wish I could work up the guts to try out for the Athletics Club at my university, but initiations terrify me to my very core. Repeatedly, we are told that they are optional, but I know I’d never get to know people as easily as those who were ‘initiated’. I also wish I could join a society, but I just can’t face walking into a room of new people, most of whom already know each other!

Should the drinking culture at British universities ever change, the over-thinking worrier types, such as myself, will lead a much easier life. I would much more enjoy ‘going out’ if it wasn’t for the pressure to GO HARD OR GO HOME – I could maybe even enjoy the odd social here and there!

Reading back over this post, I know how it’ll sound to anyone who reads this waffle: I am an anti-social loner, who spends my days and nights alone. In fact, I think I am just terrified of making an idiot of myself, or being disliked. I am always worrying about the ‘what ifs’ instead of overlooking these, and seeing the clear benefits of putting myself out there. I am not anti-social – I am just slightly introverted, and very aware of my flaws in social situations. 

Apologies that this has completely drifted from my usual topic of political matters – I feel that this could maybe in fact be related to university politics. Student Union politics. There should be a more laid back attitude to the new start; enthusiasm is all well and good for the loudly enthusiastic. Us quieter enthusiasts just get lost a bit in the background, waiting to have everything spelt out for us so we can pull a Bentham and add up our pro’s and con’s. Either that, or I should just go ahead, and stop being a wussy…

Hopping Across The Pond…

Considering our nation has a ‘special relationship’, I think a blog concerning the recent election results in the US of A is vital. Mitt Romney, the foul man that he is, was in with quite the fighting chance against the now-re-elected President, Barack Obama. This was of deep concern to me, as I felt that Romney had huge potential to create terrible rifts between countries and further tensions that were apparent. Although Obama is not necessarily, an outstanding president, with outstanding policies or execution plans for said policies, but I think it is fair to say he is much preferred to a homophobic Republican, who would likely attack Iran as soon as he could get the power to do so.

I am so glad that Romney did not have the chance to take office. George W Bush springs to mind, when I think of Mitt Romney’s potential to have become president. To put a man as one of the largest leaders of the free world, who has been quoted to say “I’m not familiar precisely with what I said, but I’ll stand by what I said, whatever it was.” in May this year doesn’t exactly fill me with excitement.

Why do I care so much, as a British teenager, you may ask? Well, a gentle reminder is this: we are, as cliche as it is, the next generation. As a 19 year old, in four years time, I will (for the mathematically challenged) be 23, and as scary as it seems, that in my books is an adult. I will be affected by issues that our friends across the pond are affected by; if another cold war situation began, it would affect me. As a history student, as well as a politics student, I often think about the eras I am studying, and how frightening they must have been. The Cuban Missile Crisis is one of the scariest situations I can think of, and the risk of nuclear war actually ties my stomach in knots. To have a Republican fellow, who to me, seems like he has it in him to be a non-isolationist war monger (bearing in mind isolationism runs deep in the veins of American history) and I don’t know what it is, but my heart is telling me that the next war will be a bad one. World War Three – nuclear, obviously, but I think that should we put someone in place who could get trigger happy, a little war or invasion (or “intervention” as it’s sometimes put – hm, another blog maybe…) could turn horrendous, and drag many other nations into it. Maybe I am being ridiculous – I probably am. I feel like an over-zealous Mayan right now; it could just be down to my ridiculous levels of relief.

The healthcare reforms that Obama is trying to put into place are good. There’s a common phrase used concerning America, saying that they often can’t afford to get sick, and they can’t afford to die. Call me a pessimist (I’m not, I’m a realist), but those two are the most certain areas of life every human being can count on happening. The NHS helps people over here who maybe couldn’t afford to pay their doctors fees and it also prevents people from avoiding their GP’s surgery, therefore catching illnesses early. Americans often are (a generalisation here, forgive me) completely blinded by their love of Capitalism, and fear of Communism. The Cold War shook things up over the pond, and whilst us Brits are slightly sympathetic of the left-wing, the Americans have never quite let their ‘Reds under the Beds’ fear go. Right-wingers called Obama a Socialist for trying to implement healthcare reforms, which would lead to people having their health care paid through taxation. People who were against this often asked, why should I help pay for everyone else? Admittedly, the NHS was implemented at a time of great crisis, socially, and economically, and whilst the country was recovering from a horrible war. Maybe this changed people’s priorities for a temporary period – I don’t know. However, put yourselves in this position, Americans. Your mother is sick, very sick. You can’t afford to pay for the operation she needs. Would you want Obamacare then? Answer: yes, most likely. Obamacare is for moments of need like that; when people are at their most desperate, the government can swoop in and save the day! Hooray for the government! Or is that the case? Potentially, could the medical healthcare plans be taken advantage of by people from other nations, like the NHS is? Yes, almost certainly, people will find loopholes. But – importantly, in that time of need, will you pray for any kind of help? Of course. And thats the kind of help Obama offers. Romney only offers help to the mass middle class, a class which often doesn’t require such support as the poorer people do.

Basically, this was all just a giant sigh of relief. Obama – the lesser of two evils, is back in the White House. We have avoided another George W Bush period in office, and maybe Obama could prove to do a bit better in a second term, and achieve slightly more from his policies. Let’s see!

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For some pretty funny stuff, have a look at this:

http://politicalhumor.about.com/od/mittromney/a/Mitt-Romney-Quotes.htm

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daniel-treadway/mitt-romney-speech_b_2087019.html

and my personal favourite:

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=mitt+romney+small+face&hl=en&prmd=imvnso&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=OKKaUIWuA6jM0AWi24DoAw&ved=0CCcQsAQ&biw=1280&bih=620