Romsons tårar är hedrande

Det är många som har kommenterat och häcklat Romsons tårar. Jag må vara oense med Romson om en del saker, både vad gäller lägesbeskrivning och normativa avvägningar, men att Romson fäller tårar när hon fattat ett mycket svårt beslut, det är inte bara förlåtligt – det är hedrande.

(Att tårarna kom precis när hon nämnde miljöpartistiska kommunalråd ser jag som en tillfällighet – det var självklart hela situationen och beslutet i sig som var orsaken.)

Jag misstänker dock att denna inställning, som grundar sig på resonemanget nedan, med stor sannolikhet inte hade präglat Romson själv ifall hon stod utanför regeringen. Men vem vet.

Här är Mark Philp i Political Conduct:

Men and women in public office and political life, by virtue of their powers and responsibilities, are sometimes required to take (or order) actions that ordinary citizens and everyday morality would condemn. In particular, the connection of political office to violence, emphasized by Weber, is such that politicians must sometimes set in motion actions that will harm or kill others, and must do so if they are to fulfill their political office. It is because of the special responsibilities associated with their office that they have to act in this way; whereas, because politicians must, ordinary citizens need not and should not. This means that they (politicians) are expected to act (or commit others to act) in ways we find repugnant and, in that sense, they are being asked to do something we think wrong in itself, even if it is the right thing for them to do as someone holding that office. The problem of dirty hands is not simply that politicians are placed in this situation and must make such decisions and take such actions if they are to be true to their office and associated responsibilities, but that they should nonetheless recognize that in doing so they have done something regrettable. […]

Unlike strict consequentialism, in which actions are right if they result in a balance of good (and in which there is no place for regret, which would be morally self-indulgent), we can hold on to the idea that doing the best and responsible thing may nonetheless impose moral harms and costs (not just on the victims but also on the perpetrators) that it is rational to regret. Someone who acts in this way does not simply dismiss the moral costs imposed once the decision to act has been made; rather, part of what it is to act conscientiously is to recognize those costs, to regret that they have to be paid, to see them as costs that are in part paid by the agent, and to recognize that the choice is, in some sense, a tragic one. Political leaders are sometimes required to act in ways that on some dimension diminish them as human beings, not just to others (since they may never know) but to themselves. Their regret is not self-indulgent — it is their bad luck that they faced a particular situation, and so had to act in ways that on some dimension are repugnant to them. […]

With such a take on political ethics one must see political agency and decision making as a matter of judgment about what the political situation demands and of having the character to make those judgments, to see them through, and to accept responsibility for them. As politically committed people we need to address the basic question of what it is in (political) life to we should struggle to achieve. We should regret, in undertaking that struggle, that it cannot be achieved wholly without cost to others. To be incapacitated by regret would be inappropriate and self-destructive, but to count these costs as wholly cancelled by the benefits would be to lack a true sense of the price that conflict and human frailty and evil impose upon the world and a true sense of the worth of the human goods for which we strive. It would be to claim immunity to certain facts to which we, as human beings as well as politicians, should remain open. Consequences and costs as well as norms and principles must inform the agent’s judgment but it remains a judgment about what it is right and appropriate for the politician to do in that situation and with the reponsibilities he or she has.


If it is inevitable that politicians will sometimes have to make hard choices that impose tragic costs on some people with the aim of avoiding something worse, then it is crucial both that we have people in power who can make such decisions and that these people do not take such decisions lightly. As Williams has pointed out, “fruitful thought should be directed to the aspects of a political system which make it less likely that the only persons attracted to a profession which undoubtedly involves some such (disagreeable) acts will be persons who are insufficiently disposed to find them disagreeable.”

Philp, Mark. 2007. Political Conduct. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, s. 92–94.