It’s election eve as I type and theoretically the whole nation is feverish with anticipation.
Except in reality if there is anything like electoral fever, it’s hardly raging and certainly not hot enough to call the doctors in.
Even after the unprecedented televised debates that supposedly helped make British politics ‘sexy’ again, I know I am not the only one feeling less than turned on. Not tonight, Mr. Darling, I feel a massive headache coming on.
It almost seems unfair to compare, but I can’t help but think back to November 2008. How despite being six months pregnant and totally exhausted, I stayed up all night to watch history unfold. How I cried knowing my baby would be born into a world where a boy of African descent can aspire to be the most powerful person on earth.
I lowered my expectations vastly when it came to UK politics. I didn’t anticipate a leader with anything like the charisma or conviction of Obama.
But it’s hard to work up any sort of excitement when our only options are white, middle-aged, middle-class men whose life experience, hopes, dreams and fears bear little relation to mine.
Now I’m not one of those followers who thought Obama was Superman, Santa Claus and the Second Coming rolled into one (thus setting themselves up for some disappointment). But there’s at least one quality that he exudes that seems lacking in Gordon, David or Nick: sincerity.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to value sincerity even more than honesty which is fine in principle but in certain contexts can be bitter, even brutal. When I listen to Obama I believe he means what he says and says what he means. I genuinely believe he cares about people, the environment, healthcare, equality and human rights even if he can’t always affect the changes he envisions.
I don’t really know what our three candidates believe in beyond getting themselves elected. I see no Kings in this pack, just three Jacks whose messages are getting lost in the shuffle.
The hubby has already declared who we’re voting for with a large sticker in our front window, but I’m unconvinced. I hardly know what the different parties stand for any more.
I read on British Mummy Bloggers about a site called Vote for Policies, that allows you to make up your mind based on what you care about and how it aligns with the different party policies – as opposed to the spin and rhetoric.
I try to log on but my computer keeps stalling and I go to bed undecided.
I wake up on Thursday morning to news that the president of Nigeria, Umaru Yar’Adua has died. It’s not a huge shock as he’s been ill for some months. My brother says the national mood is sober at the loss but somewhat relieved that the country’s out of limbo. People are tentatively hopeful that new president – symbolically named Goodluck Johnathan – might be able to move the country forward.
Change is in the air. Yet it strikes me that I feel almost as removed from the political scene here as I do that in my birth country. In general, I’m apolitical. I find it easy to get stirred up by a movement driven by people – civil rights, feminism –but not by parties with their cut and paste ideologies.
However, I know that I owe it to myself and to my children to become more actively engaged. This is the first UK election when the phrase ‘for future generations’ carries real weight for me.
Politics is a dirty business but I can’t just wash my hands of it and pretend it’s someone else’s mess.
The other day, Ezra came to me with a look of concern on his face.
‘Mummy, Jed has bogeys.’
Knowing how much my baby detests having his nose wiped, I did a quick swipe at his nostrils. Cue Jed crying as if he was under attack. I tossed the tissue away.
‘Mummy,’ Ezra said, ‘Jed’s still got a bogey!’
‘I know,’ I replied, ‘but Jed hates having his nose wiped so I’ll just leave it for now.’
‘But Mummy,’ Ezra said, ‘you just gived up!’
Point taken. I wiped Jed’s nose thoroughly. And now I’m off to vote.