Two things in my head about politics today. The first, prompted by some of my FB friends and, somewhat more intelligently, by [livejournal.com profile] jen_c_w of this parish, is why do I care about who wins in America at all? It's a fair question, and I suppose there are two answers. The first is that it matters, a lot, to my American friends. It matters, surprisingly often, on a very personal level. If Obama had lost, a lot of them would find it more difficult to get married, to get medical treatment, to get access to family planning. And I don't have a lot of poor American friends (worth noting that a lot of these friends are on-line friends, though some are friends I've actually met!). If it's like that for them, then there must be a lot of people affected further down the social ladder. Secondly, the President has the power to regulate American foreign policy and, on balance, I think Obama is less likely to find a juicy new war to play with than Romney. It goes without saying that a UK government of any stamp would follow America into war with its tail happily wagging, and that would upset me.

So that's why I care, but I don't care as much as some people I know (like the Edinburgh students I heard on Radio Scotland this morning, who've spent 4 months volunteering in the States). Mostly it comes down to the simple fact that America (and I apologise for using America here and throughout as being synonymous with the USA - I do know better, honestly) is a foreign country. I have no vote there, and they have a variety of political views which come to them through being American, and being directly influenced by American politics. Being invested in them voting the way I'd like them to is useless, self-indulgent, and, possibly, down-right insulting. Americans will choose (have chosen) the government that Americans want. Nothing I can, or should, do about that.

Strangely enough it was only last night, in conversation with [livejournal.com profile] widgetfox, that I realised that this is the way I'm increasingly thinking about Westminster, about UK elections. No matter what I think, or feel, or how I vote, or how anyone votes, up here in Scotland, UK results will reflect what England wants. That's not a political point, it's an arithmetical one. But it does help me to understand that when English voters elect a Conservative government, or make a Conservative led government possible, then that is what they want. From up here in Scotland I have no right to say that they should vote Labour just because Scotland does. That, I think, is why I don't subscribe to the idea that Scotland should remain within the Union to fight for a fairer government (or what I, and other Labour supporters would consider to be a fairer government). If England wants that type of government, they will vote for it. If they don't then their choice has a legitimacy that has nothing to do with my prefrrences.
I'm going to have quite a bit to say about our national bard (or "this ghost of a national poet, in this ghost of a nation", as Andrew O'Hagan puts it) this week, in the days leading up to the night when we celebrate him, but mostly I'll be posting a quote a day, since it's the poetry which matters.

This first one is the closing stanza of  "Love and Liberty, A Cantata".

"A fig for those by laws protected,
LIBERTY's a glorious feast!
Courts for Cowards were erected,
Churches built to please the PRIEST"

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