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Our Politicians in Gatsby’s World

The other night, while concluding watching the latest cinema version of The Great Gatsby (which by the way is slightly, but not overwhelmingly, above average) with my fiance, I remembered why my favourite fiction novel was The Great Gatsby. The story makes you think. Fitzgerald’s novel is filled with imperfect people, false and unattainable goals, and a clash between the nouveau riche and the old money, both equally corrupt and few characters deservant of any of the reader’s affection. Yet this story, almost 80 years since it was released (ancient history in America’s short lifespan), still has a “modern” feel to it and still has the ability to make one look long and hard at the contemporary world.

Non-politically obsessed and normal people probably usually look at the book as showing the excess of America’s “Roaring” 1920s (we didn’t have a rise of a Labour party or a General Strike here, just prohibition of alcohol) or the futility of loving above your station or even the inherit corrupting influence of money. However, while I sat there watching the movie, fresh off my publication (and subsequent crucifixion by UKIPers and lefties alike http://www.conservativehome.com/author/ted-yarbrough) in Conservative Home, and the “resolution” of the debt ceiling and government showdown I fantasised of our politicians as actors in Gatsby’s world. As a side note, please excuse any imperfect analogies to the novel. I was not a English or Philosophical student, I was a History major and law student and lack the appropriate amount of depth probably required for this type of comparison.

The American and British Left: Gatsby and his Parties.

The Left first came to power in the UK and US around the same time, at the beginning of the 20th century. They, like Gatsby, had traditionally been poor and deprived of power. But over the years they had risen through the ranks to success, driven to succeed to acquire the “Daisy” of their life: European inspired social engineering. They met intellectual millionaires from the continent who thought them how to behave and like they could govern. They made their money and gained their power through the boot legging politics: a mix of agitation, charisma and gaining followers by claiming they knew the answers to society’s deep seated problems. However, despite their success. the left lived in the “nouveau riche” west part of Egg always looking at the green light of socialism in Europe on the east side in admiration and desire.

The Anglosphere left hosted parties to woo the thinkers from the continent (like the Ralph Milibands of the world) to help show them how to attract the “Daisy” they desire, a European socialist or social democratic society. The house they have partying in to woo this Daisy, is the beautiful mansion of the US or UK and is getting wrecked by the excessive partying and reckless disregard for keeping it maintained and order. Soon, not far over the horizon, the left will bankrupt our countries in their bizarre attempt to be like the European “East Eggers” (who if you read the novel, are truly maniacal, rotten, uncaring people).

The American Right: Nick Carraway.

In the Gatsby analogy, I see the Republicans as Nick Carraway. They are a party that is hard working, has solid values and generally come from the heartland of the nation, naive to the ways of the big city. They mean well but after on swept up in the sleazy ways of Gatsby and his luxurious lifestyle. Sometimes, like during  the Bush era, Republicans embraced the principle of Gatsby government by spending lavishly. Overall though, they are more conservative and not enarmoured  by the lifestyle of the either the Buchanans (Euro left) or Gatsby (Anglo left).

The recent debt-ceiling compromise deal angered a lot of people on the Right, particularly in the tea party. They were justifiably disgusted that the government would pass a debt limit resolution that did nothing to roll back the excesses of the Obamacare legislation (nor fix its website glitches http://reason.com/archives/2013/10/19/the-abysmal-pathetic-obamacare-rollout), nor limit spending. However, not having a resolution and defaulting on our nation’s debt would be like Nick Carraway burning down the Gatsby’s house during one of his parties for the sake of a good night’s sleep. It doesn’t make any sense, you cannot endanger the world’s economy because you are mad about a health care law. The tea party right does have a good point, that is it Congress’ job to control the nation’s fiances by constitutional prerogative.  However, the reality in 2013 America is that the power is held in the executive branch, the unelected for life federal judges, and the bureaucracies as Obama’s triumph in the “shutdown showdown” shows. The only, nuclear, option, was unusable. For Nick Carraway to make a difference, he needs to work hard and buy the house i.e. if the Republicans want to fix the sad state of American politics they need to win elections.

The British Right: The person who inherits Gatsby’s house. 

At the end of the book, (sorry for those who have never read it), Gatsby is assassinated. Thus, seemingly somebody else acquires his house.

I see the Conservative party as acquiring the house of Britain from a 13 year long Labour party. Labour’s excesses were disgusting and nearly destroyed the house. The Conservative party came back to repair the house but they could only get all the money (they were a little short) with help from the odd Liberal Democrats. As part of their job of fixing and repairing the house they have done a remarkable job in just short time. However, the Lib Dems have one condition for the joint financing of the house: that they get to throw a (environmentally friendly) party once a week. The party is strange but not as costly as the crazy Labour ones. Ultimately, the repair job would be most successful without Lib Dem money, but they can only get that opportunity in a couple years. Hopefully, the right does not abandon the job of fixing the British house because of internal divisions. Hopefully it makes a grand manor that is not seduced, in the slightest, by the green light across the bay. 

About Ted Yarbrough

Profile photo of Ted Yarbrough
Ted is the co-founder and editor of the Daily Globe. He is a long-time blogger on British politics and has written a thesis on Thatcherism. He is based in Dallas, Texas, USA.

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