Soup, Politics and Egoism

Last night’s city parliament session – Berner Stadrat – held a fine display of political discourse that left me multitasking on several fronts: I listened to the debate, downloaded a few apps to the iPhone and tried them out, read in Andrew Feenberg’s “Questioning Technology” and on occasions I voted or exchanged commentary with my seat neighbours Pascal on the left and Bernhard on the right besides beaming up some incomprehensible status updates to Facebook and corrupting Pascal’s innocence by placing an Apple device in his hands and letting him take a snapshot of the colleagues on the left block wearing the orange partner look . We are in the last leg of the electoral campaign and the debates at the Rathaus reflect exactly that. Voting is on November 30th.

Last night there were two debates that were worthwhile listening to. There was the one about the fate of the city’s electrical company and the the other about the city’s quality of life report that was published recently. We, our party and other liberals, were defeated in our motion to have something sustainable done with this city’s utility, and we did no better on the report. Criticism is seldom welcome. The arguments were interesting and full of ideology on either side. Still I think that one needs to act towards sustainability by finding an optimal solution that involves sound economics, satisfying social needs and respecting the environment that nourishes us all. The greens and socialists seem to either not know how to think in economic terms or otherwise believe in miracles of some kind. Given the recent financial crisis that has hit the globe, it is understandable that anybody would be suspicious of any argument based on economics. I think that that is very short sighted. Surely our economic models fail and when they fail it is not a pretty sight, but they have also created tremendous wealth from which all segments of society benefit.

I am also running for re-election but I made what was to me an obvious choice to not campaign actively. For all my love for politics, local politics is an issue that I am still shy about and that has more to do with me than with how this city is run. The political process is one that is long winded, yet on occasions it requires extremely fast reactions and I often feel that I am indeed much more interested in philosophical discourse than I am in political discourse. Must however confess that my fascination with the parliamentary procedure and the associated inner circles of influence and power struggle has not diminished in any way. The weekly Thursday evening parliament sessions are to me still the most relaxing part of my week, however I am challenged by the slow pace of the process. Again, this has to do with me, I am of the ambitious and impatient kind and I like to see change happen even when it challenges the living daylights out of me.

So, what is with the soup? Our party’s campaign gurus came up with the idea of distributing instant soup to the local citizens in order to warm them up to the idea of casting a vote in our favour. Cute!