Angela Merkel’s real superpower: pragmatism.


In more than 20 years of traveling as a correspondent for Monitor, I have come to one conclusion: Every place on Earth has a lesson to share.

Whether it is the Amazon basin or the alleys of Delhi, everywhere has taught me something. In the kaleidoscope of humanity are answers to so many of our questions, if only we have the humility and curiosity to watch.

As I read this week’s Monitor, I remember one of the most powerful lessons I learned during this time: Problem-solving is often as difficult as you choose to do. Germany taught me this lesson. And as proof, I appeal to Lenora Chu cover story about German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is stepping down after 15 years in power.

What was Chancellor Merkel’s secret to such a long and successful political career? She solved problems in the midst of crisis after crisis. Now we could just say that was his superpower and leave it at that. But that would miss the lesson that Germany offers the world. Chancellor Merkel was not an extraordinary figure deserving of her own line of Marvel films. His genius has much more humble roots rooted in a distinctly German pragmatism.

Speaking of how Chancellor Merkel did what she did, Lenora lays out the mundane truth: she was always in the middle. This does not mean that it has always been moderate. His decisions to end nuclear power and accept 1 million refugees were radical in some ways, not to mention his party’s orthodoxy. But in her decisions, she was eminently pragmatic. She “always had an impeccable sense of where voters are across a wide range,” a source said. Another says she perfected “German superpragmatism”.

Perhaps the biggest victim of hyperpolarized thinking is problem solving. Solutions are not the product of calcified thought. They also don’t know anything about party lines or personal opinions. But they require pragmatism, and they usually emerge somewhere near the center – at the crossroads of intellectual push and pull that gives a collective path to the future. A society that gives in to polarization is a society that has prioritized personal opinion over problem solving.

Chancellor Merkel obviously just wanted to find practical answers, which meant “she was the last one standing, while all the other heads of state were ready to go back to their hotel rooms,” a political scientist explains. . Where did she spend her efforts? Trying to get things done.

That’s part of what she was, writes Lenora. Part of his experience as a scientist. But that is largely simply because she is German. Its repeated re-elections show a country that rewards and values ​​pragmatism over politics. The result was a stable nation at the helm of Europe, relatively untouched by political turmoil in other parts of the West. And this is a lesson. When we are ready to put problem solving above politics, Chancellor Merkel has given the world a useful role model at our fingertips.

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