Disheartened by the quality of politics

Dear Editor,

The game of politics we play and the way in which the common folks are manipulated by rogue politicians is like a shackle that keeps us making one step forward and any number backwards. The just concluded elections gave me the creeps as they say, and whoever it was that coined the term “silly season” to describe election time got it smack on target. Observing our political showmanship was in a way both a kind of treat and nauseating at the same time. The gymnastics were not easy! There were some who became disillusioned and abandoned camp, departing very unceremoniously, as against others who boldly returned to the family fold. Then there were others, veiled in their coat of opportunism and seeking greener pastures found refuge in different camps. Politics surely does make strange bedfellows. The pendulum of political conscience swung from party to party and along with it the attending accoutrements – cuss out, buse down and recriminations. Along with this was the race turret, invariably at the ready like a jet fighter ripping apart the threads serving to hold together our racial fabric. By the way, I fully accept that famous saying of Mao Tse Tung in his ‘little red bible’ which says, “Let a thousand flowers bloom.” But oh! please! Thirty-two political parties? How nice it was that wisdom prevailed and many gave up the ghost before the start.

I have to say that it has been years since I was so disheartened by the quality of politics I saw exhibited on the campaign trail. While we are yet to see the true colours of our political personalities, some have certainly given us a peek into their souls, and of what they are capable/incapable of doing. It is not a good sign and further dashes hope to see and hear the lack of maturity and magnanimity when with almost every difference in opinion is met. It sparks rancour, bitterness and resentment, and splits relations, oftentimes becoming a spiteful personal vendetta without even a veneer of respectability. I heard someone some time ago saying that one should have two stomachs when entering politics: one that provides for the nutrients of the body; the other to accommodate the deposit of political vomit. I think the elections have endorsed that opinion. Why should dissent or disagreement be met with such venom? Decency, nobility of character and honest analysis were placed on the back burner of the campaign platforms.

The elections once again have exposed many negatives which seem well embedded in our politics. What has become of people and their consciences? During the elections season I have observed people whose position I know so well, taking a back seat in conversation(s) and not uttering a single word, afraid to let their views be heard even though they are in disagreement with what is being said, and even though they know full well that what is being said is irrational, unsound, prejudiced, a downright lie or utter rubbish. It bothers me as to why people don’t follow their conscience; worse yet why do they sell it! Why don’t they address issues that relate to their existence? Why the fear to freely express their true feelings?

As in times gone by, for whatever reason, there is always, it seems, a lingering fear when this silly season comes around. Equally disturbing are some of the nonsensical things I’ve heard from both young and grown-ups; to say the least they were pathetic.

Though some of the young can be forgiven, still, it makes one sick, sad and lose hope to hear some of the most detestable remarks and lines of reasoning coming even from those who have attended or are attending institutions of higher learning. The most unwholesome part of what went on was to see people being pressured into accepting what they don’t believe in, coyly tailoring their views to reflect and mimic the behaviour of bullies and rabble-rousers, allowing them to override and dominate. In the process they became fakes and fickle-minded, stripped of the most essential quality of the human personality – independence of thought and action. Thinking of all this and what we allow ourselves to become, reminded me of one of Aesop Fables: “Truth has been abandoned and falsehood is honoured.” And no doubt we have been consumed by it and are poorer for so becoming. This is what keeps us behaving hypocritically, brazenly, lacking any moral rectitude, and even at times a parody of ourselves.  It is so disgusting to hear young people parroting  nonsensical statements they have heard from older folks; saying things without one iota of understanding of the concept, lacking a knowledge of history and conviction in what they are saying. This is one reason why incoherence and confusion continue to reign and what is helping to stifle us, making a mockery of our ‘One People One Nation One Destiny.’

Then how can we become a righteous nation? No wonder so many of us have to keep wearing a mask. And I keep wondering, all that Walter Rodney did – was it in vain? ‘All gone fuh Channa?’ Given his lofty and profound ideals, how do we sing praises to his name while participating in this nasty scheme of things that is our politics? However, there was one positive sign that angurs well and that was the swing of support in a few traditional provinces where it was considered taboo to go against the grain of one’s ethnicity, though the general race voting pattern to me was dominant. A friend of mine, a simple person, repeated to me something that someone said to him: “When you fool people to make money that is called fraud; when you fool people to win votes that is called good politics.” One love still.

Yours faithfully.
Frank Fyffe

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