Politicians frequently present themselves as “conviction politicians” in order to convince voters that they are principled, that they will not be swayed by the demands of political expediency and career aspirations. What it comes to mean when they are in a position of leadership is somewhat different and less favourable: it tends to mean that they are the sort of politician who will pursue a particular course of action regardless, that they have a certain ‘gut instinct’ as to what is right that they are determined to pursue.
Margaret Thatcher, the 1980s UK Prime Minister, was a seen as a conviction politician, and for a while it worked. Britain at the time was ‘the sick man of Europe’, and some basic economic housekeeping was needed, and she did it. But because she was functioning from ‘conviction’, she was also very rigid, and in the end this was her undoing.
‘Conviction’ is not an air quality, astrologically speaking. It is a ‘gut instinct’, and it is rigid. It is Scorpionic. I have always thought that to have such convictions about the right course of action – which can be an appealing quality to voters – you need the ability to ignore inconvenient facts. Not consciously ignore, but actually be opaque to them, so that to you it’s as if they don’t exist. So here we also have a Neptunian quality, the ability to delude oneself.
Margaret Thatcher (born 13th Oct 1925, 9am, Grantham, England) has Saturn Rising in Scorpio, which gave her her ruthless (Scorpio) and patronising (Saturn) ‘gut instinct’ about what was best for the country. She also has a Neptune-Moon conjunction in 9th House Leo, conjunct the MC, which is where we see the delusory side to her that became more and more clear as time went on. When her son had his first child, she made a public pronouncement that “We are a grandmother” (i.e. the royal ‘we’ - her Moon is in Leo). This was apparently the moment at which her cabinet ministers began to think she really had lost it. But in my interpretation, and delusions of grandeur aside, this Neptune also gave her the ability to shut out inconvenient facts, to delude herself so that she could maintain her convictions. Moon-Neptune in the 9th also gave her the remarkable ability to turn something as basic as economic prudence into a religious crusade. Her MC is in Virgo, and I think there is a sense in which she genuinely – and quite rightly - felt herself to be serving the country. For someone so rigid and one-sided, it is surprising that her Sun is in Libra. I think she is Libran in the sense that she is permanently polarised, always seeing two sides, but rigidly pitting one side against the other. The square from Sun to Pluto probably doesn’t help.
George W Bush is another conviction politician. (Born 6 July 1946, 7.26am, New Haven, Connecticut). Though he may or may not be able to understand a page of print in front of him (opinion seems to be divided here), he certainly does not base his decisions on reason. His believes in his gut instinct and that it will ultimately be proved right. It is a sort of magical thinking. That is why, for example, there was very little planning as to what to do after the successful invasion of Iraq, and he was able to keep repeating the mantra of ‘staying the course’ over Iraq, in the face of all the facts.
Sometimes politicians are saying something for the sake of expediency, and we know it’s not true and we know that they know it’s not true. It’s not entirely satisfactory, but that seems to be part of how politics works. What is worrying about conviction politicians like George Bush, however, is that they will say things that are patently not true, but you get the sense that they actually believe what they are saying.
Astrologically, GWB has Pluto Rising in Leo and Sun in Cancer, between them giving him his ruthlessness and primitive, unconscious ‘gut instinct’ way of operating. I don’t want to offend anyone here, but America has a capacity for electing stupid leaders like Bush and Reagan almost BECAUSE they are stupid. “Ah, you’re thick like me, I can trust that!” And the genius of these leaders is that they know exactly the sort of stupid thing to say that will win them votes. Like Ronald Reagan saying about his ballet dancer son, “He is not gay. We made sure of that!” Or George Bush saying, “People misunderestimate me.” Oh yes, you’re not one of those tricksy, liberal intellectuals, we can trust you!
To be fair, the UK and the US have a different method of electing leaders. In the UK, our leaders are elected by their fellow MPs (or, in the case of the Tories, were until recently), so being the new kid on the block with mob appeal ain’t going to get you elected leader. What I admire about the American system are the checks and balances built into it which are proving so effective at present.
Back to GWB. He also has Moon conjunct Jupiter in Libra in the 3rd House. This is the chart of someone who potentially has a good mind, who in fact probably DOES have a good mind when he bothers to use it. But the Moon is conjunct Chiron, so there is a problem with it, and it is square to the Sun in Cancer, which seems to win out. Maybe some years down the line, when Pluto hits this square, and his father has died and he has some distance from the failure and humiliation of his last 2 years in office, he will be able to reflect on the shortcomings of gut instinct on its own, and in so doing empower his Libra Moon. Don’t get me wrong, ‘gut instinct’ is a powerful and necessary part of our make-up – and who would not be ruled by it when faced with a survival situation? – but it can also get things terribly wrong if reason and reflection are not also properly honoured.
GWB’s Sun in Cancer is in the 12th House, so here we see the Neptunian element that seems also to be necessary to make a conviction politician, the ability to delude oneself and so maintain self-belief by shutting out inconvenient facts. This Neptunian element (which we also saw in Thatcher) also gives a redeemer quality to the politician, that they are in some sense going to save the country, whether it is from terrorists (in GWB’s case) or from the Trades Unions and bad economic practices (in Thatcher’s case).
Finally, we come to Tony Blair, who I think has behaved like a conviction politician in the worst sense over Iraq, but who I do not think is otherwise a conviction politician in the full-blown sense. He certainly campaigns like one. In 1997 he presented himself as the redeemer of the country, and people believed it in droves. Quite what he was redeeming us from wasn’t clear, but no-one seemed to mind. Yes, we had a bit of Tory sleaze and they’d been in power too long, but the UK was basically muddling along OK and prospering economically.
Tony Blair was born 6 May 1953, 6.10am, Edinburgh, Scotland. We can see the redeemer and the ‘shut out inconvenient facts’ elements from his 12th House Sun, as well as from the fact that his premiership has been characterised by continuous major Neptune transits to his MC, Moon and then Sun. It is only now, as they are coming to an end, that his ability to hang on to power is evaporating. We can also see his ruthlessness in his Sun square, and Moon opposite, Pluto.
Apart from Iraq, however, Tony Blair is able to stand back and use the air element. He has been able to have ministers in his cabinet who back Gordon Brown as PM. Most remarkably, he has managed to work with Gordon Brown, who has always schemed against him. He had no choice politically but to have him as Chancellor, and I think it is remarkable that he has managed to work with him for so long, and to put the interests of the party first. As Charles Clarke said of Brown, “He is totally un-collegiate.” Full-blown conviction politicians like Bush and Thatcher can’t take dissent, which they see as plain wrong-headed and treacherous. Like Bush, Blair has 12th House Sun square to an air Moon, but the square does not seem so one-sided in Blair’s case. Which goes to show that you often need a fair bit of information about the person to do a good astrology reading.
Neptune and Pluto have featured a lot in this analysis. Perhaps the ultimate conviction politician was Adolf Hitler, who had a Neptune-Pluto conjunction that made no major aspects to the rest of his chart, meaning that the power of the collective could flow through him unhindered by his personality. And it worked for a while, but his inability to stand back from it led to Germany’s downfall. And this is another aspect of the conviction politician, which is that they are a vehicle for some powerful need within the collective, which gives them their power, but because it is so powerful it can easily take them over and make them unable to direct it wisely. Neptune: channel for the collective; Pluto: the sheer power of the collective.