Saturday, January 02, 2010

Promises after the fact

I listened to the interview this morning on Radio 4 with Sir John Major and Baroness Shirley Williams. You'd think from the BBC website that only John Major had anything to say, but that wasn't the case at all. However, John Major had some interesting things to say about how politics needs to change in order to regain the trust of the people who do the electing. (A phrase I didn't ever expect to hear myself using!)

Shortly after the end of his final term as President, Bill Clinton addressed the Labour Party conference. He too had some interesting things to say about what needed to be done with respect to Iraq and issues of worldwide terrorism. I remember him saying how someone needed to ask the question, "Why do they hate us so much?" And I thought he was right. We need to ask that question and not come up with an answer that suggests that it's because we're right and they, whoever they are, are always wrong.

But here's the thing that puzzles me. Do these guys only think of these things after they leave office? Are they so busy maintaining the status quo while in office that they only see the bigger picture with the advantage of hindsight?

Perhaps we need a new cohort or political leaders who will ask the big questions, seek out significant change, risk not getting re-elected in order to make the changes necessary to create a political system that will serve a 21st century society before it's too late.

Truly visionary leaders, I suspect, are seldom concerned with their reputation or even their longevity in office. They are way too busy trying to paint a picture of what might be and what could be.

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