Today was a rare day when I was able to leave office as early as 8:30 in the evening. I have to confess that I have been in good spirits lately for a number of things which I would rather not name. So I decided to turn on the radio on the drive back home to listen to some happy music. Then a campaign ad by a popular political party played on air which roughly asked people to vote for it if they desired “cleaner cities and cleaner politics”.
Something in me felt that the political party, through this ad, was severely undermining my intelligence. I am honestly just supposed to vote for them because they will deliver “cleaner cities and cleaner politics”? This political party wasn’t in isolation. There was yet another campaign ad by yet another well known politico group that promised “a solution to the water problem”. Oh gosh! Why did we even fight with neighbouring states for water when its as easy as this right? The underlining idea was “Vote for us, because we will deliver miracles. Don’t ask how though!”. When they don’t deliver, we blame them without mercy. But perhaps our faith in the promises reflects a certain lack of intelligence and inquiry on our part?
I ask myself a question at this juncture, “Are we so bogged down by the problems we face, that we run after those who promise miracles?”. Political parties tell us that we are entitled to nothing but the best. They say they will deliver the best to us. In the process our responsibility and role in decision making and state functioning is a hushed up topic altogether. It annoys me when we are okay in saying, “He will do everything for us. So why should we break a sweat”. When desperation forms the foundation for democracy, it infuses a sense of citizen laziness where we always look up to this one group of individuals called the government to deliver us to utopia and do not embrace our role and responsibilities in building a future common to us all.
One of the things about the recent presidential campaigns in the United States that caught my attention were the debates between President Obama and his rivals, John McCain and Mitt Romney. Each of their arguments were accompanied by a semblance of not only what they believe needs to be done, but how they will go about it. Obama’s plan to award tuition fee waivers and benefits to students pledging community service, is just one small example of what was an exceptionally well thought out campaign. Perhaps he delivered less than what he promised and that’s a risk that comes with democracy. Yet there was some foundation, some material based on which voters could make an informed choice. It pains me that we are still not even halfway there.
We are creatures of rationale, we are better than this. Next time your area candidate says he will solve a water crisis, ask him how. But more importantly ask how you can help him and ask him if he will take your help when the time comes. Spirit of Enquiry; that ladies and gentlemen is the spirit of citizenship we all need to practice in our everyday lives! We deserve not just a better class of politicians, but also a better class of citizens, democratic in thought, in inquiry and in initiatives.