Monday, 19 January 2009

Why I'm a republican

With just days left before the inauguration of Barack Obama I thought it might be timely to think a little about freedom and aspiration and specifically, freedom to aspire.

I often have difficulty articulating to people why I choose to identify as a republican. Sadly the vast majority of the British public are still either supportive or broadly neutral towards the monarchy, so usually I don't go there.

But now I think I've got something for you, because this Tuesday the US, a country that originally defined itself in terms of freedom and spent the best part of 220 years teaching the rest of us a thing or two about it, is wiping clean its slate after eight years of error. Good job.

In countless stories, songs and movies, the US taught us that it was possible to be who you wanted to be, do what you wanted and make something or nothing of your life. It taught us that it was possible for anybody to aspire to be its leader, and in November it proved it in spectacular fashion. Barack Obama. He aspired to be president and now he is about to become president.

That's bloody fantastic stuff, you know. However, it also saddens me. Stop and think about it; as an American Obama had the freedom and the potential to aspire to something amazing, but his aspiration was one that no black man, woman or child in Britain can ever have. Neither can any white man, woman or child, nor can anyone of any background.

In fact, realistically speaking there are just three men, four or five at a pinch, who can ever aspire to be head of state in Britain. They are all white, they are all from a privileged background and, depending on your point of view, they are all largely idiots.

This is quite simply unfair and undemocratic and while it continues, I believe Britain has no right to call itself a free country.

I don't want these men and their gaffes and scandals and old money to represent my homeland anymore. They are an embarrassment to the society we deserve to aspire to be.

And that is why now, more than ever, I believe it's time for change.

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