February 14, 2017

Is there a place for love in politics?

It’s 2017 and we can’t deny that love plays an enormous role in our culture even to this day. It has fascinated us since the time of Ancient Greeks and it keeps us alive even in this digital era that we’re living in. Love was used as a cultural force by the hippie movement and it is now part of our political actions. In a fit of optimism, we dare to think that love will prevail no matter how powerful Artificial Intelligence will become and no matter how many apocalyptic movies with evil robots we might watch. Since big data and new technologies have risen, politics seem to be a matter of science and precision, rather than of art. Still, what’s the meaning of emotions in all of this?


Emotion-driven politics? Better than that. Love-driven politics.

We’ve heard people talk about empathy in political campaigns this past year. We’ve read op-eds and commentaries on how emotions are a key component of political messages. We witnessed Obama’s victory almost nine years ago and his call for “hope” – after all, one of the world’s most evoked emotions. We saw Justin Trudeau talk about inclusiveness and tolerance as prime-minister of Canada. We watched Hillary Clinton and so many other women in politics as they lead a global movement for empowering women.

Empathy, hope, tolerance, understanding – ultimately, these are all expressions of love. And we’ve all seen them transformed and somehow integrated into politics. But “love” is an abstract noun and “politics” is way too general. How does love find its place in the world of politics?


“If distant people and abstract principles are to get a grip on our emotions… These emotions must somehow position them within our circle of concern, creating a sense of ‘our’ life in which these people (…) matter as parts of our ‘us’” says Martha Nussbaum in her book titled “Political Emotions: Why Love Matters For Justice”.


To put it in simpler words, maybe it’s time to put aside those things that tend to numb or water down our sympathy – fear, shame, anger – and start exercising our empathy for our fellow citizens, no matter their race, ethnicity or general views.

Maybe it’s time for us to talk more about respect and cooperation, instead of dividing us into arbitrary categories that ultimately make no sense. And with love-driven politics comes great responsibility. Because politicians are not the only ones accountable for their actions or words. In a world where politics are (or maybe need to be) love-driven, our actions gain political meaning. And a political action devoid of emotion is probably one of the most dangerous tools. We always talk about bridging the gap between politicians and voters using technology and the power of big data. Truth be told, it takes more than just media budgets and SaaS products to win the hearts of your electorate and their votes. And from now, it will definitely take more than just a kickass political strategy and powerful technology to change the world.

Today, love has become a form of political engagement. Politicians don’t just engage people online with rational discourse and they most certainly don’t fascinate the masses with cold, hyper-strategic speeches. Love must be our answer to the outbursts of hate our recent history has witnessed.


But every cloud has a silver lining…

So let’s think about that the next time we look at those around us fighting against bigotry or racism. Let’s think about that when we read the next Facebook post of a politician or when we come up with the next political strategy. Because love is in the little things. Even in an awkward handshake.


Prime Minister of Japan shaking hands with Donald Trump