No big man on poster, no vote

2011-04-16 11:29

Democratic Alliance posters, they’re hard to miss – and not just because the ANC ones are harder to find than Julius Malema at the Equality Court.

First you’ll see one declaring that our official opposition party “delivers for all”, then you’ll see a choice selection of three DA leaders: a diverse selection of races, but every one of them a woman.

Don’t get me wrong.

I would love it if we lived in a world – or even a country – where the average voter could look at a poster like that and go: “My my, isn’t that just so enlightened.

I too shall be enlightened and trust my political future to a bunch of able women.”But real life doesn’t follow logic and local voting patterns even less so.

The fact is that the grouping of three women on a poster may strike me and other feminists as incredibly liberating, but it’s not going to do anything for the DA’s street cred.

There are principles, and there is wishful thinking.

Too often the DA are on the wrong end of that continuum.

I’ve heard Helen Zille wax lyrical about how “post-race” she is, and I have every reason to believe her, but I want to take her by the shoulders and shout: “The rest of the country isn’t!”And that’s exactly how I feel about those posters.

They’re unnecessarily alienating when one considers how the average voter feels about political leadership: that there should be a man in there somewhere, preferably a black one.

It’s just a fact of the inexplicable trends, deep-seated cultural preferences and emotions that rule many people in our country when it comes to making their mark on that ballot.

It’s not like the DA doesn’t have such men: Athol Trollip is the party’s leader in Parliament and a respected figure.

But he messes with the heavy- handed “Charlie’s Angels” image the party has run with for these local government elections.

One wonders if Zille is showing a huge middle finger to all her critics who have slammed her previous ­male-only appointments in Cape Town.

I’m sure there are a number of research initiatives the DA could produce to prove voting trends are changing. But I’d bet that this is a blip in the identity-based voting that has ruled every election: it’s about the Big Man, and many people – women included – find safety in that.

Do I like it?

Hell, no. But I reckon we need to be a bit cleverer – and pragmatic – about combating it. Or else the DA is likely to be relegated to a footnote in history: a nice idea, but out of touch with reality.

» Pillay is the deputy editor of M&G Online

No big man on poster, no vote Real life doesn’t follow logic and local voting patterns do so even less‘One wonders if Zille is showing a huge middle finger to all her critics who have slammed her previous male-only appointments in Cape Town.

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