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Elimu
 
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The Uneducated Electorate Quip

28 June 2013, 08:22

Introduction

The forums and comments sections on News24 are dominated by supporters of the Opposition. It is commonplace to read a train of comments explaining how the ruling party is messing up, and this is expected as it is the job of the opposition to oppose. One variety of comments, however, instead takes a swing at the supporters of the ruling party and not simply at the leaders themselves (logically: a party is made up of its supporters so in many ways, they are to blame). Some of these are helpful, social commentaries that we should heed to and adopt into our various cultures and individual belief systems, no matter how crude, rude or, God forbid this tired old word, ‘racist’ they may appear. Others, however, should be taken with a pinch of salt. One such comment follows lines of elitism, in claiming that the reason the majority of people keep voting for the ANC is because they are uneducated and therefore easily fooled. I want to take some people to task on that one.

It's About Common Sense

I don’t believe that an edumacation is the fundamental cause of an ineffective party winning even in the most dumbfounding scenarios. True, I don’t expect the folk striking every week to understand global supply-and-demand patterns, or the threat they pose to Foreign Investment – at least from a purely economic point of view. Yes, all of that needs a formal education. And of course, I believe that a formally educated person will make more rational decision most of the time – even in politics. However, I also believe that common sense, skepticism and self-interest are so basic to the human mind, that even the most uneducated of people has enough that we cannot chalk their strange voting habits up to being uneducated. In other words: we have to take them seriously.

If the opposition takes the ‘poor, uneducated masses’ seriously, they will really put hitch in the ruling party’s stride. In fact, I think the opposition’s management and leadership understand and are doing this, but their supporters are not and as we established earlier, a party is its people. So, to the Opposition supporters of this website: it’s time to stop being condescending, and time to stop blaming every decision made by an ANC supporter on laziness, racism or being uneducated. It’s time to start taking them seriously – when we do that we will win more votes.

Even ANC supporters admit things aren’t perfect. The thing is, they believe they still have genuine reasons to vote for the ANC. If you can show these reasons to be wrong, I believe they will (at the very least) cease to vote for an incompetent party. If you can then proceed to show that you party is the best party – well there’s a small chance they’ll vote for you too. I mean, among the so-called ‘uneducated, poor masses’ are many DA supporters. There are many ANC supporters who have since defected to COPE, DA or AGANG SA. If a small bunch can do it, why not the whole lot.

Conclusion

Ultimately, people make their decisions based on self-interest: if you can show that your party is best for them, they will vote. But here’s the reason I call it a cop-out: my general understanding is that many of the opposition members on this site (especially of the DA, a party which I may one day vote for) are either not actually informed enough (despite their education), or able to actually show, conclusively, that their party serves the need of the people. We’re scared to engage in debates where we can’t just say ‘Cape Town’. Questions like ‘How is the DA servicing the poor?’ And please, let’s not bring up the toilet nonsense: that’s just a few individuals and poor people’s lives is not just about where they defecate. And yes, there are concerns beyond the economic. Like the DA’s history and origins relative to Apartheid. Without any insults, can you explain why this party is not racist, and why all people really are welcome (I think I can). And finally, can you show that your party (AGANG, DA, COPE or any other opposition party) cares about me and can actually help me.

I really don’t think a person needs a Matric Certificate to make such a choice. And again, I understand that education would help, and that even what I am proposing won’t tip any opposition party over the edge, but it’s a few more votes in the bag, and few less people saying that DA supporters are racist or condescending. It would also do wonders to improve the quality of comments on this forum. Let’s not make lazy arguments anymore.

What do you think? Am I naïve about just how stubborn those without a formal education can be? Do you know any ‘uneducated’ people who are actually more rational and sensible than those of us who are privileged enough to have gone to school? I’m no expert on the situation and I’ve never even voted, so this isn’t supposed to be a condemnatory or persuasive essay, but rather an appeal: I’ve given my opinion, now try and explain your position – I’m willing to listen, consider and argue and am looking forward to differing views.
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