The election campaign is now under way in the country I live in. The way it works here is the Prime Minister takes a trip off to Buckingham Palace, tells her Majesty it’s time for an election, and she dissolves Parliament. Then everyone goes home and campaigns for exactly four weeks, and then if the voters still have any energy left, they go out to vote. I find I always need to point out that no one actually gets to vote for Prime Minister—you just get to vote for your Member of Parliament (and, if the local elections are being held the same date, as they will be this time, your local councilors). The leader has already been determined because he (or she) is the leader of the party. So now we have Gordon Brown of the Labour Party, David Cameron of the Conservatives, and Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats all criss-crossing the country like mad, kissing babies, eating strange foods, doing the usual things that party leaders generally do during actual election campaigns, and pretending to look happy about it. This is particularly gruesome in Brown’s case–when he tries to smile, the results are mildly terrifying.
The polls, as they have shown for some time now, still more or less indicate that while the Conservatives are ahead, they probably won’t get enough MPs elected to actually form a government. So we will then get a hung Parliament, which we haven’t had since 1974, which will involve lots of negotiations between the various parties to form an actual government. Is there a better way than the polls to make an educated guess as to whether anyone will actually win an outright majority?
Well, we could always cast the I Ching. This worked splendidly for me during the 2008 US Presidential election, although not so well for the 2004 election—the reading I got then suggested that Kerry would win. Well, maybe he did–the more we hear about election fraud in Ohio, just like Florida in 2000, the more I wonder. The I Ching probably doesn’t factor in Republican criminality.
Anyway, let’s throw some sticks and see what sort of hexagram we get. Hey, look, we get number 56, Lü, the Wanderer. It’s right up there, above. As everyone knows, the hexagram consists of an upper and a lower trigram. In this case, the upper trigram is Li, or Fire, and the lower trigram is Kên, or Mountain. This is all much too complicated to explain in detail, so we’ll just move right along.
The description goes something like this:
Fire on the Mountain, catastrophic to man, a passing annoyance to the Mountain:
The Superior Person waits for wisdom and clarity before exacting Justice, then lets no protest sway him.
Find satisfaction in small gains.
To move constantly forward is good fortune to a Wanderer.
What the hell does that mean? Sounds to me like a great deal of uncertainty, or something. Fortunately, there’s always a further analysis and explication:
You are a stranger to this situation.
It is your attraction to the exotic that has led you here, but you will move on to a new vista when this one has lost its mystique.
Because much of this environment is foreign to you, you must exercise only the best judgement.
You don’t know the custom here, and it’s too easy to cross a line you don’t know is there.
Because you are the foreigner in this setting, you have no history to acquit you.
Watch, listen, study, contemplate, then step lightly but decisively on.
So, there you have it—a hung parliament. This is a situation that we are strangers to. So it won’t be a normal election return. Which means a hung parliament. And we’re going to need to “exercise only the best judgment.” Well, given who will be thrashing things out, I think we can dismiss this as a high likelihood event, although it would be a good thing, clearly. In fact, the whole thing reads as a caution, because we have no history to acquaint us. Well, recent history, anyway.
See how easy this election stuff is? And people get paid for this. Jeez.