As it is election day for municipal elections here in Finland, I find it quite strange that I am more inclined to read latest news about the US politics, rather than local politics. Our political system is in quite good shape – and all the major parties have reasonable people running, none of their policies are totally absurd, but rather they have minor differences.
Keskusta is the central party, with roots in agricultural history of Finland – and strong support especially outside cities. As a city-person who likes to live in a metropolitan, but also be close to the nature I don’t really subscribe to their leaders’ vision about garden cities where everyone has town houses and drive to work. They do important work in agricultural communities bringing people together, but Keskusta does not work well in large cities.
Kokoomus – the conservative party – has it’s own share of silly people, but for it’s benefit has to be said that they can get people excited about ideas and move forward. Atleast in theory. As someone who has not born into a wealthy family Kokoomus feels from time to time distant and too opportunistic, with take the money and run mentality. Kokoomus works well for entreprenurial and self organizing types, creating opportunities and possibilities for growth. Atleast in theory.
Social democrats are a funny bunch whose work many of us in Finland have to thank for stability in the society and social opportunities. I really like the value set and appreaciation of needs of common man, to give similar opportunities for everyone and not leaving less fortunate behind. Unfortunately I really haven’t found anyone from their party lines that I could really relate to and vote confidently.
The green party is a mixed group values and personalities – and even though I can’t subscribe to all their ideals, I really do support some extremely smart and practical people in the party. Even though I don’t agree totally on unconditionally on not using nuclear power, I have faith on those smart people working together with other parties to find viable solutions.
As I know enough people who will vote either Kokoomus or SDP, I’m mostly inclined to vote again the green party to balance the game. Even though I don’t really like the most radical sides of the party, they do bring an important balancing power and perspectives to discussions. Well educated and smart as they are, they are a minority as a mass – but those few very smart and articulate persons are extremely good politicians and influencers beyond party lines.
So yes. Most likely my vote will go to a certain green politician with whom I don’t agree on all topics, but whose ideas, values and thinking I can relate to and know that he will serve for the best of the people of this city. As the majority of votes will most likely be shared between Kokoomus, Keskusta and SDP, I wish to see the green party keep their place as fourth largest party and also gain more votes that brings more policitical influence.
In an optimal world we would have the best parts from each of the major parties working well together. We do need forward thinking economists from Kokoomus who want to create opportunities for growth, we do need social democrats who are interested in making the society work for all of us – and we need those smart people from the green party to bring their dissident opinions about living sustainably in future metropolitan to the mix.
And then something completely different from international politics:
Sarah Palin has absolutely no clue whatsoever what scientific research means and how it works to improve the quality of life and find treatment solutions for, yes, individuals with special needs, among others. She doesn’t know that armies of MIT, Harvard, and Stanford graduates spend most of their time counting fruit flies and looking at them under the microscope – because the humble Drosophila melanogaster, together with mice, zebra fish and other creatures that Ms Palin has such a knack at dismissing – are the main research tools in thousands of laboratories across the US.
Ms. Palin is aggressively ignorant and displays the kind of anti-intellectualism that fueled Cultural Revolutions all over the world – from China to Cambodia to my own country, where about one million ”elitists” have been killed in prisons and labor camps.
But what is more worrisome is that forty percent of the American population isn’t startled in disgust and they are still considering her for the vice-presidential position. It is their ignorance and disdain for the intellectual elites, their willingness to consider this Mao-PolPot-Stalin approach to policy that made Palinism possible. Sarah Palin is just speaking her mind. Clearly forty percent of Americans do not possess the basic knowledge and critical thinking abilities to call her on it.
Education policy might be a boring, unglamorous topic. But it must be an absolute priority for the next administration – for this is the only way to render such shameful rhetoric irrelevant and ridiculous. It is not sufficient for the US leadership to step into the 21st century. The rest of the population must follow suit.