Saturday, June 29, 2024

#181 / A Return To "Normal Politics"


That's a picture of George Monbiot, above. Monbiot is a British journalist who writes a regular column for The Guardian. The column that The Guardian published on June 27, 2024, began with the following statement: 

We are about to return to normal politics. After 14 years of Tory corruption and misrule, a Labour government will put this country back on track. Justice and decency will resume, public services will be rebuilt, our global standing will be restored, we will revert to a familiar state. Or so the story goes.

Key here is that last little phrase: "Or so the story goes." The title of his column in The Guardian makes clear that Monbiot is anything but convinced that "normal politics" is about to return to Great Britain. Here's what the title says: "Things are not going to get better as long as oligarchs rule the roost in our democracies."

While Monbiot was writing, specifically, about an upcoming national election in Great Britain, he could have been commenting on our own situation, here in the United States. And, in fact, he was. "Our democracies," in the plural, references the United States. Monbiot's column is not just about politics in Great Britain.

The British election, somewhat ironically, is scheduled for July 4, 2024, and the Labour Party is, indeed, expected to unseat the Tories, which would be a big change. However, I think it's right for Monbiot to be skeptical that this election, if it goes as forecast, will mean that everything will change, and that Great Britain will be back to "normal politics." I think that the "normal politics" phrase, by the way, is intended to mean a politics that is generally working on behalf of the ordinary people - the majority. 

What Monbiot says about the upcoming elections in Great Britain also pertains to our own upcoming elections. At least, that's what I think. 

While the differences between a continuation of our current political arrangements and the advent of a new Trump presidency would be striking - and while a reversion to Trump would have catastrophic results in terms of anything like "normal politics" - the results of our upcoming November election, no matter which side wins, will not restore a decent and "normal" politics to our country, as effectively as it ought to, and needs to. Again, not if that phrase is intended to refer to a politics that is working as effectively as it should on behalf of the ordinary people - the majority. 

What would that kind of "normal politics" require? 

Well, Monbiot has some good things to say about that, referrrng to Great Britain, but what he says is just as applicable on our side of the Atlantic: 

If you want a return to the rich nations’ “normality” of 1945 to 1975 – in other words, to redistribution, a shared sense of national purpose, robust public services and a strong economic safety net, high employment and good wages – and I think most people would, you need a politics that is not just abnormal, but unprecedented. Snapping the arc of injustice would mean going way beyond Jeremy Corbyn’s 2019 manifesto, let alone Keir Starmer’s limp offering, which treads so carefully around the interests of the rich. We would need to do what the world wars did, without the violence and physical destruction: a peacetime MacArthur programme for overthrowing the oligarchs.

Political parties would need to overcome their fear of economic power: of the newspaper barons, the property developers, the fossil fuel companies, hedge funds, private equity bosses and assorted oligarchs who now fund and influence our politics. The longer we leave this confrontation, the more extreme and entrenched oligarchic power becomes. If we want even a modicum of democracy, equality, fairness and a functioning state, we need not [an] accommodation with economic power ... but the mother of all battles with it (emphasis added).

Getting back to "normal politics" is going to take some "abnormal" effort on our part - on the part of you, and me, and the ordinary people who are the majority of this nation. Read the Monbiot article for some inspiration.

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