Why Do I Judge Politicians Based on Their Children?
I’m not politically savvy.
Sure, I used to be back in 2011 when I discovered that I could vote to remove the dumb people running my country. But that’s about eleven years ago.
In the last eleven years, politics has managed to occupy only six months of my life. Sometimes, even today, I’ll argue the merits of a complete annihilation of the system that encompasses Pakistani political systems. But I’ve been called a communist way too many times in my life to care anymore. I usually like to say things to the rile my opponent (and proponent, depending on who you are).
I cared a lot when I was thirteen, though. I cared about my country and the feudal nepotism that engulfs Pakistani politics, but I don’t care anymore. Twenty-three years on this planet has taught me that moral compasses matter when a collective is involved, and from what I’ve seen of Pakistani society, we’re a morally corrupt nation.
So, I’m not politically correct at all. I’m not very politically motivated either. Since most of the politicians in my country are somehow related to my classmates or friends, I’m not surprised that they’ve driven our country to the ground. They’re unqualified idiots who have enough money to win votes.
This might sound harsh to some people, but it’s standard Third World country stuff, so I’ve made my peace with it. I’m not sure our Prime Minister has, but God bless him for trying to change a system that’s worked wonders (note my sarcasm) for seventy-something years.
Now, if I were to define my political beliefs, I’d say that I’m caught somewhere between traditional conservatism (not to be confused with Islamic conservatism) and leftist ideologies. There are times when I want a moderate Shariah in place before realizing how quickly things would go out of hand. Other times, I want Pakistan to preach Nordic socialism.
I think I know what these words mean, but feel free to make fun of me if I’ve made a mistake.
When I was a teenager, I used to read a lot of leftist ideologies, almost volunteering to join Dr Hoodbhoy’s communist party before realizing the difference between Marxism and Communism.
I like Marxism- I’ll be upfront about that. But it’s a child’s dream; it’s never going to happen. Besides, I think I like the idea of ‘merit’ over leveling the playing field.
Why? Because humans aren’t equal in intellect. Our brains are essentially sponges while we’re growing up, and depending on our surroundings, we can turn out to be the next Einstein or a Hitler. I strongly believe that our environment has a massive effect on who we are. There’s a little part of us- maybe 20%- that helps us decide on our own, but I think environmental reasons and how we’re socialized in a certain atmosphere really determines who we are.
When I was younger, I used to believe the opposite, but as we’ve seen in politics particularly, you are largely a reflection of your surroundings. A classic example is Ivanka Trump.
When Trump first became President, there were so many whispers about how Ivanka could keep him at bay. How Ivanka could be the soft voice that tells Trump to have mercy on the refugees, to be less radical. Apart from how creepy it sounds (something about their relationship rubs me the wrong way), I think the whole “Ivanka can do it” is a perverse fantasy that deems white women as eternal saviors with the ability to subdue the otherwise out-of-control Alpha white man.
I think it’s a dumb concept, but we’ve seen this trend in media (and in Pakistani men) where the white woman is treated as this symbol of maternity and feminity. And so, by default, men change for them.
On the other hand, there’s something about women of color that just warrants fetishization (not saying white women aren’t victims of this as well. I guess you have to be white and of a certain background to warrant special treatment) and ill-treatment. Seriously, almost every mainstream media or literary piece has a woman of color who’s obnoxiously ambitious (so a bad person) or a victim of abuse.
Like, every “strong” POC is either disliked by people for coming too strong. This can be in the media itself or the perception of the audience. Whereas the white woman just has to be to be considered good.
Maybe I’m reading way too much into it. But if you’re isolating (like me) and watching Netflix for 12 hours a day, you notice a pattern. Of course, it could be just the shows I watch, but I literally watch what’s trending, so this could be a Pakistani issue over everything else.
I don’t know.
As someone with darker skin (for my ethnicity), I feel like the color of my complexion has impacted my relationship with people and myself in general. I’ve discussed it a bit here, and I’m going to talk about the topic in detail when I’m ready.
But I’m going off-track. As mentioned, I think the entire idea of Ivanka Trump somehow championing women’s rights was a fail from the beginning. What surprises me is how hard everyone tried to sell it. It seems as though everyone genuinely did everything to make her out to be this women’s ambassador or something.
I also wanted her to be this way. I truly did. Because it would prove my theory. You are not defined by your family, your upbringing and your circumstances.
But Ivanka failed us. And then Mariam Nawaz failed us in Pakistan, and then Bilawal B. Zardari made me wish that Benazir had never gotten married, and the cycle continues.
Our politicians’ children are the living embodiment of how your surroundings shape your personality. So, as I saw this next generation of politicians in the making, I lost interest in politics.
What sucks the most about the world right now is that somewhere in the early 2010s, we were over this. As far as I remember, the world had moved on from things as petty as someone’s complexion, but somehow, it returned.
And now we’re fighting things like misinformation, lack of social responsibility and this new phenomenon of fake news. And yes, in my dictionary, there’s a difference between misinformation and fake news. Fake news is more damaging because it not only says that something isn’t true, it presents alternative news which suits a certain type of people.
Facts don’t have feelings, but fake news does.
Politics isn’t just about what your fiscal and tax beliefs are. It isn’t just about whether your government will make you spend more because it suits them or work more; it’s about your belief system (whatever happened to everyone’s beliefs is their own business?), your worldview, your perception of a number of socio-economic issues and many other things.
Politics isn’t just politics. There’s so much attached to it now.
So, when someone, as over politics as me, has to vote, I look at the children of the candidates in question. Do the children’s worldview match my own? Are the children entitled? Do they understand their privilege? How much advantage have they taken of their parents’ position?
These are the questions I ask, and I think more of us should do the same. The children are a reflection of who that politician is when he’s not trying to sell us a fantasy.
Unfortunately, these days, the children are not fine.