soar

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this past birthday i went birdwatching in one of the unlikeliest bird sanctuaries possible – just a couple miles out of a major metropolitan hub.

at some point i caught this image (others are visible on the flickr stream on the right) – and for some reason, this was the image that inspired me the most.

where are you going?

one of the primary problems with trying to be an political economy analyst in this country is that it is fundamentally almost impossible.

let me attempt to explain. my job (and the analytical lobe of my brain, whichever side it’s on) both require me to have some semblance of an idea of what might happen in the future. proactively identifying and mitigating political risk is a big part of my job responsibility, and so i am expected to have some sort of an idea of what is going to happen. like Nate Silver, just without any data or models, operating on a hunch based on interviews, understanding the political climate and listening to the faint and subtle signals that pulse through the nation.

these days, though, it’s gotten nigh impossible to figure out just what the hell is happening now, let alone extrapolating to a point several months in the future when, in theory, a new government will be in power. in the past, these scenarios were relatively easy to predict. a new government rides to power with the promise of a better future, which they promptly forget after a convenient interlude, and the government and the party then disintegrate into focusing on making as much money as possible in as short a time as possible. in the meantime, the people grow weary and fed up with broken promises, and then express their frustrations by promptly voting the opposition into power. fundamentally speaking, that has been the essence of the anti-incumbency thus far.

this time, it’s different. this time, there a bunch more variables in the mix – nationalism, fundamentalism, fanaticism – a whole cocktail of complicated isms that have recently reared their heads to show how divided we truly are. the events of the past six months – and the passions they have stirred up and inflamed in all of us – make me wonder how all of us became united for the cause of independence in the first place. the rifts have appeared in our society, and it is futile to pretend that they do not exist.

this complicated mix of isms have, to a certain extent, neutralized the more easily predictable anti-incumbency effect. and, in an effort to sort through this complex set of emotions, people have begun to focus their attentions on what they perceive as the lesser of two evils.

but that is no longer as simple a calculation as before either. as the elections draw nearer, the rifts and cracks have begun to appear within the parties themselves. new leaders emerge, while older ones struggle to maintain a facade of power and influence. behind the scenes, the posturing, flattery and lobbying have begun, as various sub-groups try to align themselves with whomever they think is a good bet for a leader in the future. this game of dynamic and shifting loyalties has just begun, but, as the election draws nearer, will only intensify.

so where does that leave the common man, the ones who drive the eventual electoral victory in the first place? in the past, the pre-elections considerations used to be much simpler: has the incumbent been able to protect my basic rights to food, shelter, services and safety. if yes, they vote for the incumbent; the more likely case, though, is that the incumbent fails miserably to do any of that, which is why he loses soundly. in some cases, this is a gross generalization, as in these cases, there are political or religious imperatives to vote for one party over the other. this time, though, people are being forced to look into their own deeper selves, and examine their own belief systems and values. what that means, though, is that when they compare these value systems to that of their neighbors and tight-knit rural communities, with whom they have coexisted peacefully for decades, they find glaring differences emerging. it is these differences that gave rise to the tremendous violence we have witnessed in 2013, and these differences that can drive the eventual election results.

and these differences are giving rise to complex mathematics to determine the winner of the next election – it isn’t the candidate’s virtues or promises or performance that drives my voting decision, but rather it is the party’s stance on a number of issues that determines who i support. and, given the confrontational nature that has evolved in politics, more often than not, both of the major parties took opposing stances on several recent moral issues. digesting all these issues, what they mean to one’s own value system, and the stance each party took in the case of each issue means that the voting decision is now much more complex, more multivariate if you will, to fit into the simple model of anti-incumbency that prevailed in the past.

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