Thursday, 27 June 2013

A Geek in Politics

While some people may consider themselves to be "geeks" due to their love for superhero films, or be known (in the nicest way possible!) by their friends as a "nerd" because of their detailed knowledge of astrophysics or Jane Austen books, I would put myself in that group for a different reason: Politics. It may sound completely random, and you may wonder, how can someone think politics is "nerdy"? It's so exciting and interesting (I'm kidding!) But seriously, I am interested in politics the way you might be interested in videogames or manga. It might be weird but it fascinates me. I follow many different politicians and journalists on twitter - I get most of the news that interests me from twitter to be honest - and its kind of sad how excited I am to start my A2 Government and Politics course in September. My glasses might not be as "adorkable" as Jessica Day or Alexa Chung's but I admit it... I am a politics nerd. Happy now?

Admittedly, politics has many, many, many hours of talking and long lengthy bills and legal stuff that no one really seems to understand (and actual people, in fact) that just make it seem boring. David Cameron, for example. Probably the last exciting thing he has done lately was to leave one of his children behind in a pub. Aside from that brief moment of entertainment, he makes the country want to fall asleep when he appears on the news. We've heard enough about the Big Society to last us a lifetime and we're certainly not "all in it together." Yawn.

However, when something exciting does happen in the world of politics, it's not only about the implications of changing a law or voting in a new leader and the effects that will have on the lives of potentially millions of people, like tiny ripples on the ocean. Its about the energy of people coming together who believe they can do something to change the world. Its amazing to feel that just by being alive you are watching history take place before your eyes. In this generation more than ever, you can feel you are having a direct impact. Whether you raise money or awareness for a cause or charity that means something to you, tweet or blog or just tell people about the issues that make you angry or simply turn out and vote for your representatives, making your voice heard, (something I haven't been able to do yet as I'm still only 17) all of these actions influence the way the world will be in the future. The Obama election campaign is an obvious example of this that springs instantly to mind. Why can't we have a election in the UK this exciting? I want BeyoncĂ© singing outside Number 10, Downing Street, okay!

With this in mind, it was incredible to see the events that took place over the last few days in America. Politics in the States is really interesting and personally I think it is far more exciting than in Britain. The 24 hour period of the 25th to the 26th of June 2013 will be remembered as something pretty special. It might not have the impact of a presidential election result or a declaration of war and it's not as catchy as "Watergate" or as tragic as the Sandy Hook school shootings, but I think I will always remember where I was when I found out Wendy Davis' filibuster in Texas had been successful in blocking SB5 - legislation that would have outlawed abortions beyond 20 weeks. Writing it out doesn't make it seem very exciting but the results of her determination and bravery in standing up for what she believed in will (hopefully) have a hugely positive impact, both in Texas and maybe even setting an example throughout America.

Wendy Davis was born to a single mother and had her first child while still in her teens but she managed to rise above her difficult start in life to graduate from Harvard Law School and become a Democrat State Senator in Texas, one of the most staunchly Republican places in the country. Her story is really inspiring and makes her commitment to helping other young women who may find themselves in similar situations have legal access to free, safe medical care more understandable, but no less impressive. Coming from the UK, I think it can be hard to fully appreciate the way the medical system works in the US. We are lucky enough to have the NHS in this country and as much as everyone, especially (strangely...) elderly people, love to moan about it, I can say for a fact we would be far worse off following America' example. No amount of viewing medical dramas such as Scrubs, House M.D. or Grey's Anatomy can really get the awful unfairness of the situation across to you, that if you don't have insurance, you don't get treatment. Period. This is why people like Wendy Davis are important. Having only five abortion clinics in the whole of Texas would just be ridiculous and cost many lives. The bill has been scheduled to be discussed again on the 1st of July and we will just have to hope that someone else is able to stand up (literally) and do the right thing.

There were of course a few other exciting things that took place across the pond on Wednesday. DOMA was ruled unconstitutional, the challenge to Proposition 8's "unconstitutionality" (I really hope that is a word...) was thrown out - these are both Good News FYI - and the Voting Rights Act (or at least part of it) was ruled unconstitutional - although this, sadly, is a lot less good. However, and this is just my personal opinion, I felt a lot more inspired by the successful SB5 protests than by the other legislation. I live in a "single parent family" and I think that shows you how hard it would be to raise a child on your own, especially an unplanned one. Perhaps it's because (if I moved to America obviously) this would be the one with the potential to affect my life the most, although that may sound pretty selfish, or maybe the situation seems more urgent: life and death, as opposed to bureaucracy. While of course gay marriage is an incredibly important issue - and something I definitely support 100% - I do think someone's right to control the choices they make about their own body is more of a pressing concern.

Despite my opinions, I'm really happy for all the people that these law changes mean a lot to and I hope it gives everyone hope that, eventually, things will change for the better. I hope that in a few generations time children will be wondering what the big deal is and why their mum and dad, or mum and mum, or dad and dad keep talking about something so obvious. Because of course all families are the same, of course everyone should be equal under the law; the same way we now find it hard to comprehend when we learn in a history class about how less than a hundred years ago women didn't have the right to vote.

I don't know when there will be a female President of the USA, I don't know when there will be another female Prime Minister in the UK or in Australia, now that Julia Gillard is gone, but I do know I am really happy that there are women like Wendy Davis in politics today and I hope she inspires lots more girls to make their voices heard around the world.

What do you think about the recent events in America? Have they inspired you in any way? Leave your thoughts in the comments box, I would love to read them!



  1. agreed- although I find it tragic that this filibuster was needed, major congratulations to Senator Davis!

    I live in Canada, so although these events are not directly affecting me, it does indirectly- despite the fact that abortion has been legal here for (I think?) longer than the US, all the current debates there are beginning to revive the issue here... NOOOO. There are so many people who are so closeminded and I find it very frustrating.

    1. It especially frustrates me when girls and women are against such things- can't you see that, if you're against that, it opens the door for you to lose so many other liberties?

    2. Yes, I totally agree. Although obviously people are entitled to their point of view, I really find it hard to understand - as no one is forcing anything on you, the whole idea is that the option is there for the women who do need it!
      Thank you for commenting!


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