I hate politics. (Can I open with that? Do I have any politicians as followers?) Really and truly, hate them.
Mostly I can't stand how divisive they are. In the states, you can often immediately alienate/befriend a person, make them lump you into a whole list of categories, and then start them off on an angry tirade/deriding joke/sympathetic venting session all by simply naming yourself as a Republican or a Democrat. Ugh, it makes me annoyed just thinking about it.
So fortunately for me, we're in the throes of a presidential and congressional election here in Peru, and though the dynamics and woes are quite different, the yelling and name-calling still exists.
Or at least was most definitely existent after the birthday party a few nights ago, when the 11 o'clock conversation naturally turned to politics. I sat silently as they duked it out.
One man was arguing heatedly for a candidate named Alejandro Toledo. He only had two arguments, as far as I could tell: A) Toledo had been president before and hadn't left debt behind, and B) Toledo had been a Harvard professor. (Wikipedia later told me that "he was an affiliated researcher in the field of international development at the Harvard Institute for International Development" from 91 to 94. Which is still good, although, obviously, does not a good president make.)
Apparently he thought that that last bit meant that Toledo was well-known and talked about by people in the states. To contrast his candidate, beloved by Harvard grads everywhere, with the other presidential candidates, sadly unknown to Americans, he turned to me.
"Let's get an objective opinion. Dani, what do people think about Keiko and Ollanta Humala in the United States?"
My role in this little scene, I think, was to simply say "nothing," after which the defender of Toledo could turn to his assailants and say triumphantly "Ah ha! You see? Toledo wins again."
Alejandro Toledo may or may not be a good candidate. I honestly don't know. But I was tired and annoyed at not only having been dragged into the fight, but also so obviously used to prove a silly point. So I simply said "No one talks about any of these candidates in the United States."
Which pretty much took the wind out of his sails, so that I felt slightly guilty.
The argument continued, but I was not called upon to participate again.