Sunday, 3 May 2009

Emotion V Reason in politics....

. This is perhaps one of the falsest counter positions there actually is; starting from the top, most people are in politics because they care on one degree another about the world around them and want to change it for the better. Often there is a motivating factor, something that inspires people or that they see wrong and motivates them to get out there and do something but the basis of the commitment remains the same. An ideological commitment is similarly an emotional commitment as much an intellectual commitment; in fact, it is arguably more so.

Without being a full statement of identity our political views are as much shaped in the crucible of our respective experiences in life. Of course, the finer print of how we actually do this is where things tend to fall apart. However, who would actually put all the hours and effort that most of us do into our political lives without some form of emotional commitment? Is this a bad thing? Of course, a detached analysis of the facts is helpful and sometimes necessary but how often have we seen politicians frowning over 'apathy' and the lack of involvement of people in the political process? Part of the reasons for this is unquestionably that politics fails to engage people on an emotional level; this is why the real divisions and differences are not understood or dismissed as puerile and insignificant.

This also goes a long way to explaining the almost fabled success of single issue campaigns in terms of engagement in comparison to the lack of success of party politics. It also explains why some people become disillusioned; feeling that politics is just another career choice and it might even explain why some feel so ready to abuse things like the expenses system. Also, 100 days ago we saw the success Barack Obama just over 100 days ago on the crest of a wave of public emotion; something of a outpouring of hope. Of course, we can see the negative way emotion plays out in politics in the way the British National Party so love to pray on peoples insecurities and fears.

All of this is to say that there is not a place for a certain detachment but as with most things it is a question of balance. However, to deny the important place that emotion and conviction has in politics is to deaden it and to open the gates to a decay of the fabric of the very system we all claim so much to treasure. Part of the problem and part of the reason that politics is indeed broken is the lack of conviction. This is something Nick Clegg proved in the positive by winning an inspiring victory for the Gurkhas; speaking passionately for a cause he clearly truly believes in and winning an important battle which proves that at its best Parliament can still function in the interests of the people it is supposed to represent. Part of fixing broken politics is thus bringing about the return of conviction politics.

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