Saturday, 27 June 2015

#LoveWins - The Wrong Hashtag

26 June 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States of America ruled that same sex marriage was a constitutional right, forcing the hand of the fourteen states that had banned such a practice. It caused emotive scenes across USA and worldwide support on social media. That support came in various forms, including the hashtag #LoveWins. It seems a simple enough phrase and conveys the idea of how people feel about the decision. For me, it's the wrong hashtag.

This was not a debate or fight about love. It was about equality before the law. That doesn't demean the value of the cause in any way. The 13th Amendment of the US Constitution, which banned slavery, was built on that principle and it is one of the most important amendments. The semantics are not the reason I have a problem with this hashtag.

It is how it undermines love. How it puts it as a subject of the law, institutions and even brand names. How it doesn't appreciate how special love is. You see, same sex love was not any less genuine before this legal decision than it is after it. It was heartfelt for the lovers and heartbreaking for those who called time on it. To suggest that it was a tidal wave that eventually won the fight appears to imply that it wasn't convincing enough prior to this time.  That attacks its authenticity, inappropriately so.

The problem is that a lot of people have fallen into this trap about love. The trap being "You don't choose who you love." That is a misunderstanding, at best, and a lie, at worst. You don't choose who you're attracted to. That is a fact. Love is more than that. It takes that feeling, whether it be friendship or attraction and builds upon it with choice, sacrifice and loyalty, day after day. Love is more than a feeling. It is thoughts and actions focused on an individual who becomes more important to you than yourself. If any gay couple, or indeed any couple, needs to be married to have that in their relationship, it will ultimately fail.

Marriage is the step you take when you already acknowledge that you're at that stage that you want to give your thoughts, actions, sacrifice and your entire self to each other. In terms of legal benefits, such as transfer of property, rights to make medical decisions and so on, it does seem ludicrous that there were limitations on those rights, purely because the couple in question share the same gender. Ultimately, that is prejudicial.

Yet, in among all this, there seems to be this notion that same sex love was a lesser thing until now, purely because they could not get married. I understand why people use a hashtag that swings against it but it only validates the previous prejudice. Yes, all men and women should be equal before the law. One day, they will be. But love is not equal because each kind is as unique as a snowflake. Each one is real and should never be compared to another kind of love. One thing is for sure, love is precious. It should not be cheapened for a legal concept. It's far more magical and divine than something that any man can write or decide upon in a courtroom. It's not love that won. It was equality.

Monday, 22 June 2015

How The Left Lost The Argument

As the protesters of End Austerity Now walked through the streets, they must have felt like they had taken the next step in the crusade against Government budget cuts. They haven't. They have exercised their democratic right and, in so doing, wasted their time. The reason being that the General Election gave the mandate to the right, those who believe we, as a nation, are spending too much and need to tighten our belts. 

I'm a centrist, hovering between either wing when it suits, falling into that prized position for all politicians, namely a floating voter. It affords me a position that is less tribal than some and I can quite clearly see the folly of the End Austerity Now marches. The Left lost the political argument and this is how.

There appears to be this common hyperbole that those on the Right think all people on benefits are scroungers and lazy louts. This seems to be built on the idea that everyone and their dog watched Benefits Street and Shameless, formulated an ill informed idea about the poorest in the country and ran with it. That isn't the case. The fact is everyone I know who voted Tory came from varying levels of wealth, including people who relied on benefits. However, what they did have in common is an antagonism built from personal experiences. They had seen people who were only interested in taking and not working. They saw people who lacked endeavour, initiative and work ethic. It was alienating because they knew that those people were not fussed about working. They are tired of people saying "I can't find work" when you can find websites, shop windows and job centres full of vacancies. The Left say that it is demonising the poor but the unwillingness to accept that there are people exploiting benefits is one way that they lost the argument.

Greece hangs like a financial spectre for those who support the Right. It stands as an example of a country that does not deal with its debts in due course. Oddly, the Left says you should cut slower and get the economy growing. The deficit is actually a political distraction. National debt is the bigger problem. It is the higher taxes or spending cuts that have to happen eventually. Greece is becoming aware that their loose tax control and high public spending is a recipe for disaster. The Left's argument amounted to shrugging off Greece's predicament and insisting it won't happen to us. It was to preach that growth would be the way out of the situation. Growth is the economic unicorn that we chased and then got us into a financial crisis. It is just another way the Left lost the argument.

The Left believes we should tax the rich more. The Right insists that will make them leave and with it goes the twenty percent that they spend on VAT, the rent they pay, the jobs they create and so on. The Left harped on about the NHS being a sacred cow that can't be trusted in the hands of the Right, as they forget that it was falling apart under their stewardship.

These are relevant points but it is not the key one, which was exemplified by the End Austerity Now marches. The Left has no respect for the Right's opinion. You only need to look at the tone and rhetoric used by Left Wing supporters on social media. It is aggressive, condescending and immovable. A lot of Right Wing sympathisers don't dare post on such sites due to the inevitable vilification that they will receive. The Left lost the argument because they are blinded by what they believe to be their righteous cause, when all they are is invidious. They won't back down. They won't endeavour to be inclusive. Some call that principled. The Right call that disrespectful. The Left shouted. The Right voted. And that's why the Right won the argument.