May 4, 2014 7 min to read
South Africa 2014 Elections: Vote nanny state, or corruption, or human theocracy?
After completing a small voting aid tool to help decide on who to vote for out of interest, I found the results thought-provoking – apparently, the number one party I should vote for is the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP); (2) is Cope, (3) is the IFP and (4) is the DA. I was kind of disappointed, to be honest. I was hoping for some unknown choice to pop up. Oh, and last was the ANC.
In the interests of interest I thought I would put down what’s really going on in my mind as a white (and therefore formerly privileged), Christian, conservative progressive (if there is such a thing) South African who writes for a living and doesn’t like what he sees with Western modern liberalism or modern conservatism (did I leave any box unticked there?). We vote on Wednesday. My opinions are obviously framed by my background which is why I listed them in the first place.
DA is nanny state
There’s no sense in beating around the bush here – we might as well call it for what it is. I have an alarming sense that if the DA had to come into power in this country we would move very quickly into the liberal / conservative polarisation of America. All the West’s problems with identity politics suddenly become our politics. Identity politics about race actually won’t go away – they’ll be exacerbated as other identity politics suddenly compound the problem. Modern liberals are hardly like they used to be in the past – it used to be the liberals who used to talk about freedom for all, but modern liberals only love to talk about freedom for certain select people at the expense of everyone else. Liberals used to be about letting people think whatever they want, but these days liberals are all about controlling what you think. I have a suspicion that the DA will bring in this modern tendency into South Africa and make our country another battleground for the American culture war.
ANC is a complete mess
Firstly, the ANC’s socialist policies aren’t up my alley. But at any rate, I might consider voting for them because they have conservative tendencies, but they are stone last on the list for a reason – the party is a directionless self-serving Frankenstein of a mess. It has become the very thing it claimed to fight.
IFP has had the same leader forever
IFP’s policies seem very good, believe it or not (last time I looked anyway) but the party has had Mangosuthu Buthelezi at its helm for pretty much forever and seems to be owned by the guy. It doesn’t stand for anything it seems to support on paper. The IFP will bring in more cultural politics than we really need right now and it’s layered with a terrible history that I don’t think will disappear until someone else leads it. It’s leaderless and seems to have any real vision.
So then, let’s talk about the ACDP
As in every election, many Christians are discussing the ACDP. Certain churches are putting them forward as the only option. I’m grateful that I’m part of a church which gets on with the mission and doesn’t bring politics into the mix. I don’t think the ACDP should get my vote because of the word “Christian” in there – in fact, that very word can turn my vote away. If I could say one thing about the ACDP and that is that the word “Christian” with regards to politics doesn’t make many people feel very comfortable these days – including many, many Christians. There are reason’s why the ACDP’s support has waned – less Christians think that politics and church should mix in any way.
Having said that the truth is that the ACDP’s policies are not what you expect. They don’t advocate the death penalty, for one. [Oops – I was wrong about this. This seems to have changed from the last election when I looked.] That flies in the face of what many Christians used to think made for godly government. (I don’t place much stock in the death penalty myself.) Where my interest lies is in the issue of land, production and family. These are three concepts I believe must come together – families should be empowered to own their own means of production. Conservatives have always said the family is the core of a nation and I agree with this.
Why the word “family” often carries negative connotations in politics
Generally, what people think when they hear of people talking of “family” in politics is that the issue is around “family values” – ie. censorship of pornography, or perhaps the loss of gay rights, and that sort of thing. That’s not what I mean when I talk of empowering the family. So I looked to see what the ACDP means when it talks of family and this is what I came up with:
“[The ACDP will] Amend laws and policies that undermine family values, such as access to contraceptives and abortion by children without parental consent; inappropriate sex education in schools; attempts to ban moderate parental chastisement and legalise prostitution; and the legislation of pornography and abortion-on-demand.”
And here is where they lose me. Not because I really want pornography, for example, to be available; or because I believe children shouldn’t smack their children; but because I don’t believe that morality can be very easily legislated for two reasons – (1) No legislation can change the heart and, (2) these values will sort themselves out when the family is empowered; if the family is healthy it doesn’t matter what the law says, a culture of strong family will be sorted out. My other concern is that I get the sneaky feeling that this would become the ACDP’s main driver and everything else would take second place. I don’t want a human theocracy.
Where the ACDP wins for me, at least a little, is in its policies around land, particularly this:
“[The ACDP will] Focus on rural development to address issues that arise from urban migration, by encouraging local economic development and incentives for industries to relocate to rural areas.”
Encouraging local business helps to empower families. Big business simply doesn’t, which flies in the face of modern capitalism, I know, but there it is. I don’t like big business. I believe every individual should be empowered to own their own business – idealistically, every employee is not an employee but a business owner with skills who contracts to a business who needs their skills. This shift in thinking is what I think empowers an individual from the modern-day slavery of big corporates to being able to provide freely – their future is not tied up to the future of some other company but to their own two hands. Government should help that process along. Through that process the family is empowered because what it means is that every provider of every household owns their own means of production. The best way to do that is to make it easy to acquire land. Capitalism doesn’t make it easy to acquire land because a free-market economy (supply and demand) drives up the prices of property and herein lies the rub. If you own your own property you can do something with it – you can run your business. But if you don’t own your own property you are restricted by someone else, yet again. Job creation isn’t really the answer in my mind – what is the answer is empowering people to work for themselves.
Well, that’s my basic economic policy anyway. I’ve gone through every single party on the options for this year’s election and everyone seems to miss it. The ACDP, however, come the closest to perhaps seeing it that way, but my general feeling is they will make “family values” the main issue, which is why I’m just not sure about them.
These are my thoughts. I don’t think any South African has this all clear in their heads. Politics muddies the water – it’s difficult to really know what’s right or wrong. All I know is that our country is at a tipping point this year and we need to have some major change into the political scene or otherwise things will continue to be frustrating for many of us. My hope is not tied into politics, but I would certainly like to live in a country where I can worry less about my needs and my family’s needs and be free to love people openly and honestly in the best way I know how. I don’t think a nanny state will let me do this and I don’t believe our current state, if it goes down the road it is right now, will let me do this either. On Wednesday I’ll vote according to my conscience and the only brain I have. When my ballot goes in I’ll also offer up a prayer – a miracle has happened before in this nation and perhaps a miracle will happen again.