Why it matters that we care about politicians, what made me care about politicians in the first place, and what I would like to say to any struggling politician.
I have been so fortunate to work in politics, in parliaments, and with politicians around the globe for 14 years. I have entered some incredible democratic spaces at pivotal moments in history, and I have observed the human impact of the political experience amongst individuals charged with navigating it for all our sake. I started out being interested in how democratic practices within the national parliament of South Africa would be re-shaped at the end of apartheid, which was the focus of my Ph.D. The majority of those entering the new parliament in 1994 had no experience of democracy from the inside, and I was fascinated to realise that a person’s experience of democracy, which in this instance was one of exclusion, shapes their actions irrespective of their current reality and experiences. Since then I have worked internationally with politicians around the globe and I have come to realisation that all politicians know their feelings do not matter, and should not matter, to the content of their policy decisions. Yet, they still have them, and those feelings still play a role in shaping the form democracy takes, and this form shapes political leadership culture. Consequently, we may contemplate creating AI politicians to override this, but until this happens I intend to spend the rest of my life helping us all to understand the reality of how it feels to deliver democracy, with the ultimate aim of improving the quality of democratic processes and innovating democratic institutions.
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