Wednesday, 16 July 2014

I'm Conservative, But Not Like You

My Nan says I should be a politician. Quite the vote of confidence, right there. I have always planned to be a politician eventually, but you know, not until I am sufficiently aged. I almost changed my mind today. Driving home from work, listening to the news on the radio, I sorely wanted to change course and head to Canberra to start right now. 

In the words of Lorde  "Let me in the ring, I'll show you what that big word means."

Nan and Pop, this post is for you x

My maternal grandparents are Conservative. They "know I am a Greenie," because my darling Nan reads my blog. They are fine with me being a "Greenie" (and I am fine with them calling me that if that helps them understand my views), but Nan has given me me one caveat so far: I'm allowed to be a Greenie, as long as I don't go crook about her cutting down trees.
I laughed and agreed that I wouldn't "go crook" about this. What her comment did make me think about though was the generation gap, and how if my Nan was my age now, she too might be a "Greenie." Let me explain...

Nan wants her right to chop trees. Even if she is 80.

My Nan was born during the Great Depression. My, how we have heard about how tough it was back then. There are photo albums and stories to prove it. I utterly respect the guts and resilience of my forebears in those years, no question.

By the time my Nan was politically aware, Communism was plaguing Europe. I learned about what happened to the people in the former USSR at uni, and have learned enough about world history to know that just about any country that tries out Communism in practice ends up a basket case. In case I ever forget, North Korea is the ultimate omnipotent deterrent to Communism the rest of the world simply cannot get rid of. But Nan didn't learn about this stuff in books, she lived through those scary idealogical times. Communism was a real potential threat to governments and people were scared that Australia had "Reds under the bed."

Whether they know it or not, my grandparents were witness, through their radios, newspapers and eventually televisions, to the destruction and economic devastation that Communist ideology caused during the 20th Century. From an historical perspective, I can understand why my grandparents and those of their generation may be very fearful of anything that comes from the Left, including perhaps the writing of their own "Greenie" granddaughter. 

"We're the Planeteers! You can be one too!"

I was born in 1987 and was raised in the 90's and early 21st Century. I was a teenager more than 50 years after my grandmother was. My first eighteen years on Earth were very different to hers. I went to a state school, for free, right up until year 12. Whenever I went to the doctor or dentist, my parents never had to pay. I watched the ABC almost every day after school and was not bombarded by advertising for that 2 hours in the afternoon. No junk food commercials, no Barbie doll ads, nothing but Captain Planet goodness and Feral TV. I studied the environment at school and went on excursions to stinky mangrove forests and the beach. I was not a "Greenie" back then. I was kind of bored with environmental science to tell the truth. Like it or not, we were taught to look after the planet, often using catchy songs by like "Look After Your Planet." Again, I wasn't a "Greenie" when I was singing along then, I just liked the song.

Communism wasn't on the radio or the TV by the time I became politically aware, the Gulf War (I) was. Greed was good in the 80's and that philosophy lingered in to the 90's. I ingested stories about American culture through toys, cartoons, movies and video games. America dominated the television I watched, with shows emphasising the importance of being rich and famous. The international news stories I heard were all of the same narrative - Free trade, New World Order, Coalition of the Willing. 

My political leaning as an adult is mostly a result of my early environment and the influences I took in as a child. I learned what "normal" was before I knew what "normal" meant in a political context. Applying the same logic to what happened in my Nan's case, it is only natural that I should want to preserve the things I love about my life, and rally against anything that could take those away. My Nan didn't want her country to become Communist, or even Socialist, because that could take away her right to forge her own life independent of others. Hell, she needed to cut down trees back then to burn wood for the stove and to heat the house. If I'd been around then I would have been right out there chopping wood with her! 

Neo-Conservatives in Action - Cheney and Bush

Now, in 2014, I don't want my country to swing too far towards the other extreme. My Nan was frightened of Communism - I am shit scared of the new Neo-Conservatives. Unlike Neo-Cons, I do not believe in the free market being a mechanism to provide cheap access to everything I could need, because I have witnessed the rise of the Corporation. I have seen on my computer screen and on my iPhone the advertising of every multi-national selling me things I don't need. Free trade will not give me affordable healthcare. Medicare already does that. News Corp and Fairfax will not give me unbiased reporting of stories because they are beholden to their shareholders, not their readers. This is my reality. 

So why am I calling myself a Conservative? Because to be Conservative is to be adverse to change. To be Conservative is to hold on to your tradition. I am Conservative because I am fighting to keep my way of life in tact. I am not advocating anything radical, I just want to keep the freedoms I have so long taken for granted in place. If we privatise everything, then we have to pay for everything at a price that is out of our hands. We are left with no bargaining power, and no vote. If you can't pay, then you miss out. 

And that's not fair. 

That's American.

And that's definitely not where my grandmother or I grew up.

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