When the personal becomes political

Presenting oneā€™s self through political positions

By Idrian Burgos, Contributor

Let me start with this: I am a political person. I have a love of, borderline obsession, with politics. I read newspapers, whenever possible, for political news as well as entertainment newsā€”but mostly political news. Most of the websites I visit are of a political nature. If there is an opportunity, I watch The National, or CTV National News, or better yet Power & Politics with Evan Solomon. One reason I have difficulty talking to other people is the problem of finding someone with similar political interests, because itā€™s a subject that I might babble on about for an hour. Politics is indeed an interest of mine, but it isnā€™t something that truly excites me.

Such are things that interest someone, but donā€™t excite them. The kind of politics mentioned above is of an ordinary kind. It deals with apparently mundane things such as foreign policy, controversial laws, or federal party leadership races. However, when politics start to deal with ideology and political beliefsā€”the ā€œbigger issuesā€ and ā€œdeeper principlesā€ that inform these mundane thingsā€”politics is no longer the mere question of building a condo unit on public land or effective waste disposal. Politics now goes beyond the concrete to the realm of the abstract. It becomes the quest for what is beyond the small issues, and what underlies them. When politics reaches this level, an individualā€™s beliefs, principles, and thoughts colour it. Politics becomes the mirror of the personal.

Some people find it difficult to express themselves and opinions openly and plainly without appearances or pretensions, due perhaps to early experiences or social fears. They may express their inner selves indirectly by listening to a particular type of music or discussing why Bobby Lu is an excellent goalkeeper for the Canucks despite contrary evidence. Projecting oneā€™s inner self on the political is another way of indirectly conveying oneā€™s true self. An insistent view that Mr. Harper is the best PM this country has ever had, despite contrary evidence, may hide a long-concealed inferiority complex, for the person identifies with the much-maligned figure. A repressed desire for rebellion may be expressed by supporting Fascism. The logical connection between the pure desire and its politicized version may be present or not present at all. The important thing here is that those views I cannot say in public directly, I can say indirectly through my political talk.

The same can be said of historical, philosophical, or any other kind of discussionā€”academic or not. The important matter here is the usage of these topics as ways to display those things we have within us that we wonā€™t display in plain form. It is the personal reflected through the political, historical, entertainment, or whatever.