The best politician?

The leader of the conservative party in Norway (Erna Solberg) is in hot water these days. Her husband clearly used inside information from her and her government to work the stock market. He bought and sold large amounts of stocks at crucial moments, often the day before her government announced policies that significantly influenced the value of those stocks. She has thrown him under the bus and abandoned any responsibility for this situation, even if she – crucially – is legally responsible for making sure these things don’t happen. And she has received a lot of criticism for it.

A friend of mine on social media says he doesn’t agree politically with her in everything but feels sad since she sees her as the best politician in Norway.

DIFFERENTIATING SKILLS AND POLITICS

In many ways, I admire that approach.

He discerns between political skills and the content of politics.

He acknowledges that she has skills and characteristics many would like to see in a politician, even if we don’t agree with all or most of the content of her politics.

It’s a useful distinction and it reflects sincerity and intellectual honesty.

THE CRUCIAL SKILLS SHE DOES NOT EMBODY

Yes, she may have skills and characteristics many would like to see in a politician.

At the same time, she clearly does not embody certain skills I see as crucial for a politician.

She does not seem to have much interest in thinking in the big picture and long term.

She chooses to ignore the dire warnings of scientists.

As I see it, this shows that she lacks crucial political skills.

CAN SHE BE THE BEST POLITICIAN IF SHE OPERATES WITH HER HEAD IN THE SAND?

Is she the best politician if she is ignoring the warnings from tens of thousands of scientists? If she is not taking what they say seriously and is not prioritizing deep and profound changes in all our social systems. (Not the least our economic system which is blind to existing within an ecosystem with limited ability to produce resources and absorb the products of civilization.) Is she the best politician if she lives with her head in the sand and pretends it’s all mostly OK with just a few problems here and there that can be fixed with minor tweaks? Will future generations see her as the best politician? *

Yes, she may be skilled in some facets of being a politician. And can she be the “best” if she is ignoring scientists and the biggest issue humanity is facing today? Can she be the best politician if she is ignoring that humanity is using far more resources than Earth’s ecosystems can keep up with? If she is ignoring – to take just one of many examples – that the acidification of the oceans may lead them to collapse with disastrous consequences for all of humanity and most life on Earth?

DERAILING THE DISCUSSION? OR FOCUSING ON THE BIGGER PICTURE?

I know that this sounds, in some way, like the talk of a teenager, and it’s exactly the kind of things I said as a teenager in the ’80s.

Some will say that what I am bringing up is beside the point. He obviously talked about certain skills independent of politics, and I switched the focus to the content of politics. That is, in some ways, a derailing of the original conversation.

And yet, what do we see as included in essential and crucial political skills? Isn’t taking science seriously an essential political skill in our modern world? Isn’t looking at the big picture and thinking long-term an essential political skill?

When we talk about these things, do we choose myopia? Or do we look at the bigger picture? Can we afford to leave the bigger picture out of the conversation?

* No party in Norway is really taking this as seriously as they need to. Even the Green Party is watering it down to make it more palatable for more people, which is pragmatic and probably a wise approach. That says more about the voters than the political parties. They are the ones who prefer to not look at reality.


INITIAL DRAFT

The leader of the conservative party in Norway is in hot water these days. Her husband clearly used inside information from her and her government to work the stock market. He bought and sold large amounts of stocks at crucial moments, often the day before her government announced policies that significantly influenced the value of those stocks. She has thrown him under the bus and abandoned any responsibility for this situation, even if she legally is responsible for making sure these things don’t happen. And she has received a lot of criticism for it.

A friend of mine on social media says he doesn’t agree politically with her in everything but feels sad since she sees her as the best politician in Norway.

To me, that’s a bit baffling. Yes, she may have some skills and characteristics that many would like to see in a politician. But there is a bigger picture.

Is she the best politician if she is ignoring the warnings from tens of thousands of scientists? If she is not taking what they say seriously and is not prioritizing deep and profound changes in all our social systems. (Not the least our economic system which is blind to existing within an ecosystem with limited ability to produce resources and absorb the products of civilization.) Is she the best politician if she lives with her head in the sand and pretends it’s all mostly OK with just a few problems here and there that can be fixed with minor tweaks? Will future generations see her as the best politician? *

Yes, she may be skilled in some facets of being a politician. And can she be the “best” if she is ignoring scientists and the biggest issue humanity is facing today? Can she be the best politician if she is ignoring that humanity is using far more resources than Earth’s ecosystems can keep up with? If she is ignoring – to take just one of many examples – that the acidification of the oceans may lead them to collapse with disastrous consequences for all of humanity and most life on Earth?

I know that this sounds, in some way, like a teenager, and it’s exactly the kind of things I said as a teenager in the ’80s. Some will say that what I am bringing up is beside the point. He obviously talked about certain skills independent of politics, and I switched the focus to the content of politics. That is, in some ways, a derailing of the original conversation. And yet… Do we choose myopia? Or do we look at the bigger picture? Can we afford to leave the bigger picture out of the conversation?

* No party in Norway is really taking this as seriously as they need to. Even the Green Party is watering it down to make it more palatable for more people. And that says more about the voters than the political parties. They are the ones who like to not look at the reality.

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