LET'S REDESIGN POLITICS
An urgent need for innovation
Sure, we have elections but what are we choosing from? Most people I talk to feel the same frustration, and have for a long time. People are tired of politicians without visions, only focusing on criticising each other. We are feeling frustrated and dejected as politicians over and over again prove themselves incapable of dealing with pressing challenges such as the climate crisis and integration.
So what's wrong? I believe the problem is structural.
THE SYSTEM IS BROKEN
Most politicians surely entered politics because they felt a calling to make the world a better place. However, the design of the political system forces them to focus on being elected and re-elected. As a direct consequence, taking necessary long-term measures to deal with the pressing challenges we are facing would be a political suicide. It is safer to follow public opinion than to take the lead. No one seems able to deliver meaningful solutions to the big problems we are facing. Did they all forget their calling? When the slightest mistake risks resulting in media criticism, it appears like most politicians are driven by fear and risk mitigation. Will that lead to visionary long term politics?
Other issues are lobbying, the inability to harbour and promote citizen engagement and politicians focus on blaming and criticising each other.
So perhaps we can agree that the current system is dysfunctional. It's no longer serving its purpose. Because, really, what is the purpose of politics if not maximizing wellbeing for all?
Could we just redesign our political system? Yes, let's redesign democracy! I can't think of anything more meaningful and urgent.
What do we want to achieve?
A system where politicians don't have to focus on being re-elected and instead can act with a long term perspective for the greater good.
Full transparency around lobbying and influencing politicians.
A modern system making use of technology. It's 2021!
Incentives for collaborations, listening, vulnerability and transparency, instead of defensiveness, attacks and ego.
So how can we design that?
POLITICS IS NOT A CAREER
What if politicians rotated and were only allowed to serve a maximum number of years? Perhaps 10. Hopefully they'd find the courage to address big problems. And they would be anchored in real life as it would not be possible to cling on to a life-long political career.
The EU initiated a system for transparency as there are many lobbyist groups in Brussels. Sweden could do something even better. Every company or organisation that meets with government officials or politicians would need to register and account for how they are financed. Similarly, all money transactions need to be displayed. When politicians sign op-eds in the newspaper, they should mention what other interests are behind.
TECH IS A THING
Here, politicians are lagging behind. Why are we not making use of tech? What a brilliant way to channel citizens' knowledge, activism and engagement.
I also feel that the left and right scale is outdated. Let's skip left and right and go deep instead. Think listening and collaboration. Maybe even the idea of political parties is outdated. I know many people myself included who don't identify with any of the parties. Don't we deserve something more inspiring? Alliances could be made depending on the issue.
And seriously, instead of focusing on winning debates and criticising each other, what if politicians really listened to each other? We all have different perspectives and we all believe we are the good guy.
Status quo is not an option so we might as well start testing new ways.
Läs Bengt Ericson - Den härskande klassen, en bok om Sveriges politiska elit
Höj Rösten - en politikerskola
Accountability of politicians and citizen's power
The failure to deal with climate change is a sad illustration of a deeply dysfunctional political system. Today, there's no (sane) person who hasn't realised climate change is real. We crave solutions. We are willing to make changes in our lives - but we need guidance. We look to politicians but they are busy saving the airline industry or promoting growth. Is it reasonable that they are the last ones to wake up?
What is their responsibility? Could we hold them accountable? Can our political leaders' lack of action be counteracted by citizens' sense of urgency and activism? Let's not wait for slacking leaders.
IS PASSIVISM OKAY WHEN MOTHER EARTH IS ON FIRE?
It's not new! Al Gore's movie Un Inconvenient Truth was released 2006. It was not even new then. The alarms started coming in 1988. But if you're a Western political leader, perhaps the only direct effect you notice is warmer weather. For others, it is a question of life and death. Forecasts predict millions of climate refugees.
Being a politicians is not a 9 to 5 job. It is a huge responsibility. It should be about making the world a better place. When the world is on fire, you act. Your next election results should not even be on your mind.
There have been international courts set up for human rights violations. What if the international community would set up a court to hold politicians accountable for failing to act to preserve our planet? It is an immense human rights issue affecting millions of people. Politicians have had the power to act for a while now. They've had uniquely unanimous science to back up actions. Yet, not much happened. Sure, some showed leadership but big international summits have failed. Even today, the airline industry is receiving subsidies! Say what? Those money could make themselves useful somewhere else.
I WANNA BE NUDGED
Maybe you heard of the concept nudging? It's a way to say that you can design things to help people make better choices. So first, we redesign politics so that politicians are able to make good decisions. But actually, all of us can use the idea of nudging to improve reality. What if we designed society so that the cheapest and simplest choice was also the best one for the environment? Today processed meat, flights and fast fashion is cheap, nudging us to make decisions with a negative impact on our health and the planet. If you want to make good decisions today you need to be informed, you sometimes need deep pockets and it requires more effort of you. It should be the opposite.
Society should be designed so that a lazy, ignorant and cheap person automatically makes the decision that benefits his or her health and the environment. It
STOP BUYING PHONES
So the idea of renting cars, bikes and clothes is out there and we love it. Let's go crazy with that brilliant idea. One thing I am waiting for is Apple leasing their phones. Today, we know an iPhone isn't a very sustainable product. After just a few years it slows down, shuts down or something else annoying. Something we know Apple has done on purpose. Also, what's the thing about changing the charger instead of letting people use their old ones.
So basically if we have hardware companies leasing products, I promise you they will last longer. All of a sudden it is en Apple's interest to make it sustainable. Show the world you care.
YOU WILL VOTE BEFORE TONIGHT
One way to make politicians act is to mobilise citizens. If we demand action for climate change for example, it becomes a less risky political action.
In the meantime, what can we all do as consumers and citizens? Actually, a lot. We vote every day without a ballot paper. You vote each time you choose the train over a flight. Or just travel less. You vote for the environment when you opt for plant-based organic food. You vote each time you buy second hand instead of new.
Be a conscious consumer. Ask questions. Hold companies accountable. Help them be sustainable. It shapes our society because ultimately, money talks.
Let's look at our values, redesign our consumption patterns, and turn it into activism for a better future.