The Opportunist

I plead guilty to not having been reading the news for the past couple of months. Before getting down to jot a few words about today, started by looking for information about a nice little juicy story about a Bernese young man whose political party choice has cost him a job. I found nothing and discovered that the local fish wrapper has totally redesigned its website, and i could not find anything like a decent archive to search for the story. I will rely on my memory from what I read in a newspaper while having a coffee a few days ago. See, the good fellow is a physicist now entering the job market and is running for office in November on the ticket of one of the Green parties. He landed a nice cool job with a power company in the business of operating a few nuclear power plants. All good so far., However the young man is against nuclear energy, and when his future employer noticed the conflict of interests, they generously told him to not bother showing up for work, and for good measure did give him a few months salary for the work that he will never get to do. I do scratch my head when I read such stories, but then to err is human, or so I am told.

It has been exactly one year since I joined the Bernese city parliament as a member of the liberals (FDP/PRD). I mean, the Bernese voting population has put me there on that seat. This November we have new elections, and at this point I am not sure what will be better, to get re-elected or not. Although it would be really good for Bern to get a government with more liberal ideas and less green-red argumentation, at this point I will be very surprised if the so called right-wing parties will be able to pull off a majority in November.

Today to celebrate my first anniversary of active politics I entered the session at the Bern Rathaus wearing my “grün fährt rot” t-shirt, left the orange bag home and had in my hand a copy of Blick am Abend which I had picked up in the bus. Now, the thing with the t-shirt is really cool. Yesterday I wanted to buy a monthly pass for the city’s public transport and went to the counter of Bernmobil, the local public transportation operator. At the counter I was told that I could ride for free on any of their buses or trams until September 11 as long as I wore their t-shirt. Seemed like a fair deal to wear a t-shirt as ticket. Then I asked how much the t-shirt cost, and that turned out to be free too. I suspect here that they have looked up google’s business model or something. Then I was informed that there were only XXL t-shirts left, and if I minded. Really, for that price I will a XXXLL t-shirt!

For somebody who never cared much about fashion, I seem bent on making political statements with what I wear on the political theatre. Being a liberal and used to dealing with economic issues ranging from policy to the banality of my own daily life, I do know how to count. See, the red thing is not my political thing and it does not take a genius to figure out that the present city mayor and majority in parliament are part of what is called a green-red coalition. On the other side of the voting lines are the right-wing parties to which the liberals are considered to belong, and where I have found my very own political heimat. In other words, the socialists and the greens have the say in this town, we on the other hand have developed a great relationship for losing on most issues and the ability to totally rejoice when we do get he whole house to sway in our direction because on occasions there are issues that are so important that somehow we are all on board. Today a couple of those showed up on the agenda.

Now, the story of the young green physicist who is a bit wet behind the ears illustrates to me how very political our life is and that whatever institutions one does belong to, we better care a bit on how to align our interests with theirs. I really would have a very tough time working for an organization, be it public or private, that represented and defended values which were against my own. I feel as I write this that I am still convincing myself that to be active in politics is indeed something that is part of my life and that it is time for me to shed the mantle of caution about speaking out for those issues which I believe to be important and where I want to make a difference. Has it taken me one year to come to this point?

I am an opportunist. Opportunity to make a difference is all that I am looking for.

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