Bad politicians: Exposing them is simply not enough

2013-10-15 18:03

Writers need to drag down unworthy politicians to the gutter. Today’s Voltaire, Dickens, Swift and Orwell need to guide citizens towards political renewal. Imagine a verse the great Alexander Pope might have concocted to ridicule today’s politicians.

Who today will point out sharply the dullness of their ways? Who will mock at their vanities? Who will fire verbal missiles at their corrupt behavior? But more importantly, who will tame our mob-like mentality, for it is we who elect them? Who will jab us from our slumber for sheepishly placing our faith in them, despite their continual misconduct?

Consider this instructive line by DH Lawrence: “The greatest serpent to destroy is the will to power: the desire for one man to have some dominion over his fellow man.” Have you ever wondered which politicians were the most power hungry or misguided? Hitler, for Nazism and the horrors of the Second World War, or Stalin for his Machiavellian use of socialism as a pretext to ‘purge’ his enemies and forcefully transform himself into a real-world despotic divinity?

How about President Obama for letting Wall Street fraudsters off the hook for their criminal role in the global financial massacre? How about President Zuma for the lack of transparency with the Arms Deal, the controversy surrounding the building of his grandiose homestead Nkandla, and the privatization of Gauteng’s public road network with e-tolling? How about Julius Malema for preaching an outdated Marxism of capital and production that still gets crowds into a state of frenzy? The irony is that Marxists today are more concerned about gratuitous consumption best exemplified by many of these politicians.

Admittedly, there have been a few that are respectable. Still, one cannot ignore Robert Mugabe for clinging onto power and imposing state-sponsored violence on Zimbabweans. One cannot ignore political leaders of fundamentalist Islam and their desire for a global jihad. You get the point. This list can grow ad nauseam.

Given the dearth of worthy politicians, we should offer praise to free thinking and active citizens. Consider Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai, who continues her global campaign for the education of young girls, despite being shot and seriously wounded by the Taliban last year. Consider active citizens, Zackie Achmat and his team, for their work on behalf of South Africans living with HIV and AIDS. There are many other unsung heroes grinding away, making the world a better place, despite the ruinous behavior of politicians. Their examples give us a glimmer of hope.

But their examples are not enough. We all need to embrace free thinking and active citizenship, or the price we pay for our narrow-mindedness and apathy, will be greater than the ridiculous toll fees.

Reflect on this well-known quote by French political thinker, Alexis de Tocqueville: “In a democracy, the people get the government they deserve”.

Perhaps in our case, it should read: “We deserve the politicians we have”.

So the next time you decide to vote, do yourself and the children of this country a favor.

Think.

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