Well, it is time for Kieren to get political.
It is a Kieren rant, so please, put the kettle on, it maybe some time until you get to the bottom of this blog.
My major point is President Obama in the United States, and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in the United Kingdom, have one thing in common. They are both hated by both sides of the political spectrum, for something I admire.
They are liberal, and they compromise.
Why is it that compromise has become such a dirty word in politics? Compromise is key in any relationship, albeit running the Worlds most powerful Country (That comment is in regards Obama, I am afraid Clegg :-p ) or if you are with a partner. Compromise is finding centre ground, and making a go at it. To do the will of the people, rather than to just will the people to do what you state.
The best governments we have ever had in Britain in order to get stuff done have been the wartime coalitions, especially in World War 2. The parties coming together for the common cause, finding a middle way, and choosing the path ahead without major knee jerk reactions to the left or right.
We, in the United Kingdom, have found ourselves in the last 3 years in a coalition with the Conservative party, with the Liberal Democrats. This unlikely compromise isn’t viewed too well in the media, and with good cause. Mainly, that Rupert Murdock owns most of it. He wanted an outright Conservative win, and the British people didn’t vote for that. They voted for Coalition.
For some reason, both sides of the political spectrum consider Obama and Clegg are weak for their liberal viewpoints, and a lot of members in their own parties are distancing themselves from them and taking a more hard line approach.
Why is this? My profession has been in the Military. Of course, in such a profession, democracy is what we protect, we don’t practice it. However, a Good Officer is one that takes the hard decisions, whilst taking into consideration the welfare of their force under his or her Command. Not everyone will be absolutely happy, but then its discussed and put forward in a proper way.
This is what Obama and Nick do. They are taking the will of the people and making a compromise in order to attempt to make it work, not just listening to their party. It is what we should want our leaders to do.
Of course, there is a lot of things that I disagree with in regards to Obama’s policies, however they are done in order to be the pragmatist he needs to be. He is President of the United States, not “Leader of the Democrat Party”.
I am proud of being a Liberal Democrat. I believe in equal rights, in all aspects, gender, religion, sexuality, ethnicity, and for disabled people. I believe in the welfare state, but a welfare state that is active in getting people trained, active, and working, not a welfare state than supports a lethargic attitude. However, I do not think this lethargic attitude is the fault of those all in the system, but more the fact that they have been cast aside, and devoid of hope. This must be paramount in any system. Hope.
I also believe in a free market, but a regulated free market, that promotes free enterprise and small businesses to start up, but one that stops tax evasion of large corporations and maintains a livable wage for all. I am pro a strong, working, democratic European Union, working together to provide a good standard of living, and strong opportunities for education, travel, and careers, regardless of “who you are” but “what you can do”.
Of course, the leader of my party, whilst these are his pledges, hasn’t been able to deliver all of these. Of course he hasn’t. He is not in charge, he is in a Coalition. However, we now have Gay marriage in the law books of the United Kingdom, the tax on the first 12,500 GBP earned is now not taxed, bringing lower paid earners more money into their pocket, and all school children within the United Kingdom have a free lunch at school, among many other good policies. These policies would not have got in, if he didn’t compromise.
Obama has had the same problem. I think that Obamacare is nowhere near what I think a healthcare system should be like. I would like to see a full, Universal healthcare system like we have in the UK and in Norway. However, the compromise he made had to be made, because he would never have got that through. The fact that he compromised, means that he gave healthcare to millions of Americans that would have been otherwise unprotected, albeit it was not ideal, but it was a step in the right direction.
Compromise doesn’t make you a smaller man. Compromise means that, however slowly it may feel, is that we can make a difference, until the aim is achieved.
I feel the aim of a Liberal is to give hope and aspiration to all. Conservatives use fear.
Unfortunately, Fear sells.
Why is this? Think of all the amazing political speeches of our times……
- “We will fight them on the beaches”
- “I have a dream”
- “Ich bin ein Berliner”
Just a few examples, but they are all full of hope, not of hate. To instill passion. To install a dream of a better future.
We liberals need to learn again to come to our roots, and bring this message of hope to all, and to tell this message.
If you want to bring an end to long-standing conflict, you have to be prepared to compromise. Aung San Suu Kyi