Who are the inspiring leaders who aten't ded?
August 26, 2011 11:44 AM   Subscribe

I'm out of the loop. The first I heard about Jack Layton and Paul Wellstone and John Smith was when they died. Help a working mama out: who are the inspiring leaders who aren't dead yet? Obviously I skew Anglophone in my language constraints and bleeding-heart liberal in my politics, but I'm interested in hearing about anyone anywhere who seems compassionate and competent... so far.
posted by rdc to Society & Culture (24 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Bernie Sanders. It takes balls to proudly call yourself a Socialist in the US Senate.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:51 AM on August 26, 2011 [10 favorites]

Inspiring leaders? Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama are the only names that occur to me; I think most everyone would agree on the former, though obviously not the latter. Not having heard of the three politicians you mention doesn't mean you're out of the loop; unless you're a political nerd or read the Economist, there's no reason you would have heard of those men outside of their home countries. Also, politicians can look a lot more inspiring once they're no longer politicking. Jack Layton was not particularly inspiring if you didn't agree with his politics, and could play politics personally (which he later regretted, to his credit) and be as crass as the next guy trying to get camera time. He, was, however, an immensely kind and decent human being; rest in peace, Jack.
posted by Dasein at 11:55 AM on August 26, 2011

Best answer: I'm pretty cynical these days, but I'm left-leaning and I've been pretty impressed with Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio so far.
posted by bananafish at 12:01 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Wait, I've got two more - a bit parochial and by no means uncontroversial, but two aboriginal leaders in Canada who I think are inspiring and should get a lot more press than they do are Calvin Helin and Clarence Louie.
posted by Dasein at 12:03 PM on August 26, 2011

Best answer: My beloved Wisconsin congressperson, Tammy Baldwin.
posted by mcbeth at 12:22 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I was sorely disappointed to hear that Russ Feingold has decided to sit out running for office in 2012, but I would expect to see him to remain in politics one way or another
posted by briank at 12:23 PM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Also, watch to see how Elizabeth Warren fares running against Scott Brown in Massachusetts. She may not be able to beat him because the GOP has thrown a lot of money at him to keep him viable, but she may find some other elected office down the road.
posted by briank at 12:25 PM on August 26, 2011 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Paul Farmer is not a politician, but a physician who works primarily in developing countries, especially Haiti and Rwanda. He is a founder of Partners in Health.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 12:36 PM on August 26, 2011

Best answer: David Norris. The wikipedia entry is a little weird; yes, he took really key high court actions as a private citizen for which we are all very grateful, but the man has been a public politician for 20 years and is a first class statesman.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:38 PM on August 26, 2011

Best answer: They're still quite young (babies, really) but twin brothers Joaquin and Julian Castro of San Antonio are pretty awesome.

That is, if you're not writing the state of Texas off entirely at this point. And I honestly couldn't blame you if you were....sigh.
posted by pantarei70 at 1:24 PM on August 26, 2011

Best answer: I think former politician Stephen Lewis, who will be eulogizing Jack Layton, has a commendable record and is doing great work on AIDS in Africa.

And I might be in a very tiny minority of Canadians, but I think Stepháne Dion, former leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, deserves a lot of credit for earnestly trying to move Canada towards a green economy, and taking climate change and environmental stewardship seriously. His ideas were for right for the time; it's the rest of Canada that was (and still is) behind.
posted by just_ducky at 2:12 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Mark Ridley-Thomas (MRT)
posted by quodlibet at 2:38 PM on August 26, 2011

Best answer: Dennis Kucinich.
posted by threeants at 2:50 PM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Tony Benn. A tricky bugger, but we'll miss him when he's gone.
posted by HandfulOfDust at 3:26 PM on August 26, 2011

Best answer: A few months ago I would have suggested Anthony Weiner. I love Barbara Boxer. Al Franken is fighting the good fight, and Yes! Yes! Yes! to Elizabeth Warren.
posted by HotPatatta at 3:32 PM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone except Kololo! I have a lot of fun reading to catch up on :)
posted by rdc at 7:18 PM on August 26, 2011

Best answer: Alan Grayson.
posted by SisterHavana at 7:34 PM on August 26, 2011

Best answer: leader of the opposition and subject to massive amounts of news coverage around the time of the election, i'd suggest that rather than worrying about knowing about individual inspirational people that you just start watching the news once in a while. Or reading the homepage of ctv or cbc or the globe and mail once a week.

rdc never specified that she is Canadian - if not, there no, probably wasn't much news coverage of Layton where she is. Chill.

I will second Bernie Sanders, Sherrod Brown, Russ Feingold, and Paul Farmer as favorites of mine in the U.S.
posted by naoko at 7:57 PM on August 26, 2011

Best answer: Also I am very partial to former Virginia congressman Tom Perriello, who unfortunately had only one term. He has a background in human rights law and Catholic social justice work, campaigned in a Wellstone-like "conviction politics" style, and since leaving office has done a lot of work in the Middle East with NDI.

This interview with him is terrific, if you've got some time on your hands.
posted by naoko at 8:04 PM on August 26, 2011

Best answer: Elizabeth May. "American-born Canadian Member of Parliament, environmentalist, writer, activist, lawyer, and the leader of the Green Party of Canada."
posted by kmennie at 9:00 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'd heard of lots of these people and they're exactly the sorts of people I mean. I'm looking forward to finding out about the rest.

And naoko, thanks so much for noticing: I am a dual Australian and British citizen resident in the USA, with voting rights in none of the above. So no, I didn't follow the Canadian election very closely.
posted by rdc at 6:25 PM on August 27, 2011

Senator Al Franken.
posted by getawaysticks at 7:32 AM on August 29, 2011

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