Written by by JamieCookeryBook.
I will not be talking about economics, demographics or political compasses at all here since there are already many great places where you can find them explained and explored in detail, and I would definitely encourage you to look into them. What I will be discussing is where to go from the point of having already taken these on board and having moved away from the centre in your politics.
If and when to tell people where we stand politically when our political views are far from the centre are nerve-racking decisions. As things have stood until recently, the vast majority of people are pretty much apolitical. They are happy to go through life without ever looking into ideologies except in the most limited of ways. There are obvious reasons for this: unless you have had direct experience of coming into conflict with the status quo, you may have had little reason to question it. The majority outsource their politics to the consensus of friends and family, along with the direction being pushed by the mainstream media, accepting these positions as correct by default. This is changing, and rapidly. Young people are increasingly ideological, and more and more people are finding that the centre does not offer any solutions to the biggest problems that they are left with no choice but to face.
Avoiding the topic of politics will be harder in the 2020s than it has been for decades and we will be faced with the fact of being at one end of a polarisation where we have to deal with people, including those we already know, who find themselves in opposition. If you change the subject abruptly, you will quickly be ‘found out’, and if you water down your views, you will know that you are being disingenuous. As much as we might like to hide certain aspects of ourselves, the political is fundamental and encompasses so much of who we are on a deeper level. I think everyone instinctively knows this.
After a lot of thought, my policy is now one of total honesty except when it is likely to damage my ability to make a living. Admittedly, this has meant a lot of painful losses of friendships and potential friendships, not to mention relationships. Except for those lucky enough to have 10/10 looks, the pool of potential matches will shrink fast when you begin expressing opinions that are not considered acceptable.
I have learned what it means to be reviled and hated, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this. The shock for a lot of Brexit-voters was sudden and raw when they realised how detested they were just for their patriotism. Just as shocking was the realisation by so many pro-EU individuals the moment they discovered that they had been outnumbered by non-progressives who wanted out of the direction things had been going in. I do not want to give the impression that people whose views are opposed simply can’t be friends or in a relationship. There is a chance they can, it’s just that much harder. The shock was very real, and division since then has only been accelerating.
As a not-obviously gay man, I’ve experienced endless parallels with telling someone you prefer men. There is an inevitable point that comes in knowing someone beyond which it becomes an absurdity to omit this information, just as it would be to hide your political views. Exactly the same concerns arise: How will I be judged and recategorised in light of what I’m saying? Will they hate me? Will the opposite be the case, where they ascribe a lot of values and beliefs to me that they think are good but that I don’t actually hold? (Female friends have dragged me around make-up and clothes shops expecting me to have some kind of sixth sense for fashion which just isn’t there.)
My most dramatic experience of coming-out-backfire was on a date when the talk turned to politics. My date asked me outright how I had voted, and since the chemistry had been so extremely good until that point, I decided to answer honestly.
“UKIP… Nigel Farage is a national hero,” I told him.
His anguished eyes searched my face to see if I was joking, then he turned pale and cold when it sank in that I was being serious.
The hysterical meltdown which followed (his, not mine) was ugly, but in hindsight wasn’t it better than if I had deflected, strung things out, and postponed the inevitable? Should I have softened the blow by asking him if he knew of Ayn Rand? Thinking about this even now I still have tiny doubts, and part of me does wonder what might have been if I had masked. The truth is, however, I know myself well enough to know that the masking could not have lasted.
Less dramatic but a lot more more hurtful has been losing a long-term friend who has gradually moved further and further to the left in great part due to the manipulation of the mass media with its narrative around Trump and more recently BLM. We are still, only just, on speaking terms, but it is clear that I am persona non grata when it comes to social situations involving other people, and I will always be viewed with a degree of suspicion since the events that took place in America this year. For me it has been a great disappointment that someone I respected and thought of as intelligent could still so trust the media when there is abundant evidence at least raising the possibility that we should be more sceptical.
But make no mistake, it is not all bad. One of the benefits of actually having an ideology rather than being a centrist (not really a position at all) or claiming to be totally apolitical is that you have ideals to work towards. In other words, you have things that you can actually do in support of that ideology, as well as things you can work against. For every friendship I’ve lost, there are many more to be gained from allying with others who share views with me. A sizeable and growing minority of people want the same things and share the same vision of improving the country.
To my mind, having an ideology you adhere to is infinitely better than not having one, and being honest is a moral quality. To go a step further, if you hope to win people over to your views, it will be a necessity to be upfront with them and show them that you are as being both as direct and nuanced with your opinions when you talk to them as you are when you think about them yourself. Show that you are not trying to indoctrinate them and that you can handle dissenting views. If we want to destroy the stereotypes people hold about us, we must come out to some degree at some point. We must show them that we are good people.
It is not worth living a lie, all things considered. It’s not worth the stress it causes when you have to cover up or semi-mask your true feelings about such a fundamental area, it’s not worth the prolonged deception it involves, and with the exception of losing your livelihood, it always feels like a weight off your shoulders. Why? Because all human relationships require honesty.
I am not suggesting anyone dox themselves, but in your personal life I feel you stand to gain a lot of respect when you are honest with people; I certainly have, and this outweighs all the negatives. If the person you are revealing your feelings to disagrees, show them that you are happy to hear their disagreements and you are not on the attack, that as someone who is political you are not a person who shies away from hearing opposing views. As someone on the right, you hear them almost constantly. However passionate you might be, remind them that not everything is political, and who you are is not the exact same thing as your politics – in the 2020s it will be easy to forget that. Using these tips, I have kept some friends and colleagues who I am ‘out’ to, and even discovered that one already secretly agreed with me.
As things get increasingly ideological, and they will, you are an early adopter, and it is inherently scary to be on this new track – just by taking your position outside of the mainstream, you are already brave. Nobody can force you what to reveal and who to tell, it’s a personal decision only you can make, but do not believe for a second that it will be the end of the world to come out. Taking that plunge could be the beginning of an exciting new path.