Today’s young activists absolutely hate Bono, says Ian Leslie in his Substack newsletter. They think brokering deals between elites is “irrelevant and corrupting”, and a distraction from the all-important work of “systemic change”. But it’s dealing with elites – some, like George W Bush and Bill Clinton, now pariahs among the woke youth – that has allowed Bono to achieve so much. Take Aids. By working closely with Bush, going on Oprah, touring Republican states with his band, and flying back and forth to Africa, Bono convinced the US to announce $15bn for Aids relief in 2003. “Until Covid-19, it was the largest-ever public health intervention against a single disease.”
Contrast that with today’s lot. They prefer to “make a lot of noise in the media”, hoping to incite enough public anger to force politicians into doing something. “Do what, though? The answer is often left vague.” A recent article by Greta Thunberg is a perfect example. The world is on a precipice and nothing is being done to save it, she says, because we are ruled by cynical “politicians, corporations and financial interests”. But that’s rubbish. The West is transitioning to low-carbon energy at an “extraordinary” pace – and that’s precisely because of decisions taken by business leaders and politicians. Thunberg prefers the “safety of radical rhetoric” to the slow and unglamorous work that Bono specialises in: designing “workable policies”, persuading voters to support them, and getting politicians to implement them.