True Grit, Moral Courage, and Honors for a Good Politician

Politician, noun: a manipulative, ethically challenged, constituent-scorning government official. That’s the term’s connotation in America, especially after last year’s presidential election. In Scotland, however, party officials hope to be named Scotland’s Politician of the Year; the Conservative Party’s leader, 38-year-old Ruth Davidson, was delighted last October when the Herald newspaper gave her that honor. She received the award at a ceremony at Edinburgh’s Prestonfield House Hotel, notes

Davidson, the U.K.’s only openly gay party leader, ascended to that leadership through true grit, the BBC reports. “’Being in politics,’” she told Tina Brown in a November, 2016 Women in the World Forum in London, “’is grinding, hard, lonely and strips you of parts of yourself you want to keep’, but she finds strength to persevere in ‘moral courage’ . . . . That idea of moral courage, that you need to be a leader in any sphere, not just of politics, is about doing what you know you have to do, no matter what it costs you.”

When Davidson was 5, a truck ran over her, breaking both her legs and her pelvis, completely crushing the femoral artery in one leg. Her fortitude showed up back then. “I was the only kid at primary school with a [walking] frame. And to go from there to being the first girl in my village to play for the under-14s boys’ football team, to then go on to be fit enough to be in the Territorial Army, to play squash for my county and my university — you know, when people tell me I can’t do stuff, I just have to do it.”

Davidson’s talk with Tina Brown included this on the American election: “She did encourage women in America who were disappointed by Hillary Clinton’s defeat to take heart, however, pointing out how many women had just broken the glass ceiling. “You have a double amputee who’s just been elected to the Senate, a former soldier. You’ve got a Somali-born American woman getting elected in a state which doesn’t have a huge ethnic profile, you’ve got the first openly lesbian woman being elected governor of a state. These are amazing breakthroughs, one after the other after the other.

“I think that we are in a moment, and will look back to this moment, and see that this is the point where women across the world woke up to the fact that it’s not going to get progressively better just because we want it to. This will be the moment that women of my generation and younger wake up and go ‘Right, I’m going to go out and take this for myself — and I’m going to do it on my terms.’”

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Listen to Davidson’s talk with Tina Brown (from the 1:20:00 mark) at Women in the World.

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