Monday, March 1, 2010

Thinking Politician on the Right: David Cameron

David Cameron, the leader of the Conservative Party in GB spoke at a recent TED talk in London: http://www.ted.com/talks/david_cameron.html. How refreshing! He didn't talk about cutting taxes or balancing the budget or socialized medicine. In other words, unlike most Republicans in the U.S., he didn't just repeat platitudes! (I understand that some Republicans undertook some serious thinking at the recent health care meeting with President Obama, but I assume that came about so that the President wouldn't show them up). Most of what comes out of the mouths of most Republicans amounts to tired campaign slogans. (Yes, Democrats do it, but right now, Democrats have to actually make laws and govern, even though they are only doing a mediocre job of it.) Cameron spoke about how to provide a more effective government and how to empower people. He cited (with photos!) the work of Cass Sunstein (whom crazies on the lunatic fringe demonize in his position as Obama's head of regulatory affairs), behavioral economist Richard Thaler, Sunstein's co-author of Nudge, Daniel Kahneman, the Nobel Economics prize-winner who isn't an economist (Nasim Taleb even likes him!), and Robert Cialdini (Influence). Wow, someone on the Right (relatively speaking) who thinks! Of course on the American right we have some thinkers, but they have no influence now and virtually all of the thinking from Republicans seems really tired and behind the times. Anyway, something refreshing from across the pond.

Afterthoughts:

  1. Does the fact that the Brits have parliamentary government and have to think about ruling more seriously make them better at transitions and providing better-considered alternatives?
  2. Does the fact that leaders of the parties in GB have to stand up regularly in parliament and answer questions—tough questions—make them better thinkers and speakers? Could you imagine W at question hour? Even Obama, who thinks and speaks very carefully and rather slowly, would have a hard time in such an atmosphere. I used to on occasion watch Tony Blair at question hour (I don't recall what channel), and I found it quite entertaining and thoughtful. (Although I must say that I watched Gordon Brown's TED talk, and I don't know that I made it to the end.)

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