Learn to think for yourself
By Aidan Mouellic, Staff Writer
Politics are complicated. Try explaining to a recent immigrant the roles of parliament and senate—heck, try explaining that to a born-and-bred Canadian college student! I barely know what the senate does, though I do know that it’s an awesome post to have since you barely have to work but get paid a lot.
What is not complicated is Canada’s party system. Federally, we have three dominant parties, and in British Columbia we have two dominant parties. It’s a simplistic representation of otherwise complicated politics and individual political beliefs. People throw themselves onto one bandwagon and call themselves Right-wingers, Left-wingers, liberal, conservative, or some other enclosing term. Politics is not black and white, yet so many people align themselves wholeheartedly behind one party or ideology.
I used to call myself liberal, until I noticed that on some issues I lean left and on others I lean right. For instance, I have a rather conservative view on terrorism and crime, but a liberal view on same-sex marriage equality and drug use. I judge my political stance on specific issues—something few people do.
Whenever I’m at a party, bar, or anywhere where I meet new people, I usually get asked the two questions that annoy me the most. The first question being, “What do you do?” (Answer: lots of things, including but not limited to breathing and sleeping.) The second question is geared towards finding out which political ideology I subscribe to. I usually tell people I’m an anarchist just to kill the pointless conversation. I wish I had the guts to tell the person asking me that they’re dumb for subscribing to a specific ideology because it’s not possible to be on only one political bandwagon. If you claim to be 100 per cent politically this or that, then you might need therapy to sort out your needing to belong to and be accepted by a group.
Twitter is perhaps the best place to find people whose identities are closely tied to their political beliefs. I’ve seen it too many times: the people who identify themselves before anything else as a “Liberal for life” or “Neoconservative soccer mom.” Aside from the sadness that these individuals can’t come up with anything more creative to call themselves, if you quiz them on a few issues, chances are they aren’t what they claim to be.
Political parties are a necessity in a democracy, but that doesn’t mean they’re right. If I had it my way, every politician would run as an independent. This wouldn’t appease the appetites of people who love to place things in neat categories, but not everything fits neatly into a category—in fact, few things do. Though we may lazily identify with a group that mostly resembles our beliefs, it’s illogical to do so. As your mother told you before your first date, “Just be yourself.”