The hacks are back scrutinizing the politicians. And the politicians – wolf and cub – are at it again, promising the end of your misery.
The circus spirals out of control every five years and hits the streets. It’s the third coming but the first and the second ought to have taught us all that we need to know – namely the game of fame, shame and ‘who’s to blame?’ This is also the breaking point in that spiral where the clueless layman becomes the telling pundit, analyzing parties, picking apart candidates and laying down the final score line of ‘who’ll do whom?’.
Meanwhile the parties unfurl their latest candidates and their latest credentials together with their latest pledges. The sentiment appears to be ‘the bigger the resume, the higher the chance’. Perhaps they are right. Brain does beat the heart (until it’s the heart’s turn to beat the brain).
Frankly I do not care who wins or loses. My stake is in the survival of the country as a sovereign and livable entity and not the parties that might govern it. The elections are gonna be the same old circus spinning a new yarn of old strings. What I care about is that they do not get too excited and too greedy too early and sell out the country and its wealth too fast. Expecting anything more basic than that is setting ourselves up for an eventual disappointment.
This wariness wasn’t born yesterday. It’s the stepchild of a political mother that is fundamentally selfish. What is a politician but an opportunist gambling on the bet that the voter will dig his gho, find his socks cool, drool over his command of the national language, become a fan of his gravelly vocals and go bonkers over his civility in public servitude? And then pitch that to you as a sacrificial boon?
It doesn’t matter what he pitches. He can pitch the sudden disappearance of the gaping gap between the rich and the poor, in five short and vague years. He can pitch the sudden enrichment of the lives of the very poor, in five short and vague years. He can pitch the sudden eradication of all corruption, in five short and vague years. Or he can pitch the very redemption of your lost soul in a paradise of your choosing and it still wouldn’t matter in another five short and vague years.
My bone of contention with the politician has always been the same; ‘what does he really want? And who does he really serve?’ The first bidding is the usual typecast: enrich yourself, and then appear to enrich others and make it all appear as if we are benefiting from this selective enrichment.
Were it to be proven otherwise, I’d happily stand in the docks – guilty as charged. But no – politics seems to render men (and women and their supporters) temperamental, impersonal and hypersensitive to their own ambitions. This would be fine if the fate of the nation weren’t quite in their questionable hearts – the hands I’m sure come ably recommended – so it’s the heart that must be suspect.
I’d be glad if there wasn’t such a ruckus and the transition in temporal power swapped hands smoothly but reality smirks at such a sentiment with its scarred past. Politics, it seems, by its very nature is but a freak show and the politician is the freak pretending to be the ringmaster. We are the paying spectators sitting in the dark munching our stale popcorn and being told to enjoy it. And the business of democracy is the arena where it all alights.
My expectations are thus very low. I don’t care which party comes to power. Look at that word – power – it would take a person with deeply embedded roots to stay grounded once the branches of power and their pointy ends begin to stick out and prick.
If the empowered party and its winners can resist selling out the nation chunk by chunk or even bit by bit that would be an accomplishment and a major one at that. Come the next round they could even go around making a catchphrase out of it, ‘we didn’t sell out!’
But everything’s on sale.
I don’t trust politicians, period. As individuals they are tolerable but put them on a pedestal or in the halls of power and the predictable politician plays out. The only way to keep them accountable is to distrust everything they say and judge them at the end of the spinning table by what’s left on their plates. Some will have picked the plate clean while others will leave behind a big plate of waste.
I don’t trust politicians because I get the feeling they are in it for the glory – vain or otherwise. I don’t trust politicians because once empowered they fatten up and get lazy. I don’t trust politicians because trust has to be earned, continually. I don’t care about their party ideologies either. What’s in an ideology but another short and vague idea? One doesn’t need to be a genius to figure out that Bhutan is a small kingdom with a tiny population wedged in between two insecure giants who wanna make it a satellite of their influence.
Furthermore one doesn’t need to be a genius to figure out that a sound infrastructure, a receptive bureaucracy and an inclusive autonomy are the needs of the day. One doesn’t need to be a genius to figure out that the businesspeople wanna make of Bhutan a honeypot with which to attract foreign wasps. One doesn’t need to be a genius to figure out that plutocrats could end up owning most of the country to the detriment of the larger population who’ll grow increasingly dejected at the barricaded scene – with nothing of note worth fighting for.
One doesn’t need to be a genius to figure out that blind obedience to an unquestioned status quo bodes badly for the national future. One doesn’t need to be a genius to figure out that the stakes must be equal or there’ll be no stakes left worth battling for the common man; walking sold-out streets and fallow fields. And one doesn’t need to be a genius to figure out that the youth must be invested with the most altruistic of education because they are the caretakers of tomorrow’s Bhutan.
Or they’ll become tomorrow’s perpetrators.
If not, everything worth voting for will have been bought off, sold out, owned and protected by a conniving few propagating a sham. The system – designed to spread the national wealth and share the burden of responsibility – will become an oppressive apparatus. And if that happens, democracy will become the final crucifix upon which we’ll all be nailed.
So please, prove me wrong.
(Jurmi Chhowing is a writer. He’s the founder of Yallamma! The Writing Company. He can be emailed at email@example.com.)