04 January 2015

Mahinda vs Maithree in an ideal election

Pic courtesy www.therepublicsquare.com
A few days from now Sri Lankans will elect an all-powerful executive president.  It will be the seventh presidential election since J R Jayewardena created the office through the 1978 Constitution.  There are 19 in the fray.  The front runners or rather the incumbent with incumbent-edge and the main contender with edges of his own have made the speeches, heaped invective on each other.   Loyalty has been questioned, loyalties have shifted.  This way and that.  There are claims and counter-claims.  Trading of insults. 

It’s election-business as usual in Sri Lanka.  In a parallel universe though elections would be quite different.  Let’s take a stab.

In a parallel universe today’s friend would have been yesterday’s friend and will be tomorrow’s friend as well.  In a parallel universe objection would be expressed long before elections are called and with no room for doubt that objector (or ‘crosser’) is motivated by self interest. 

In a parallel universe election manifestos will not read as the auctioning of non-existing resources.  Manifestos, moreover, would not be so lengthy that few if any would read them.  They would also be precise and without contradiction. 

In a parallel universe, candidates and their supporters will think twice before unleashing venom on those in different camps.  Before they point out flaw they would examine if they are unblemished and if they so find that they have tumors themselves, will desist from firing salvos. 

In a parallel universe hero will not advertise him/herself and neither will he/she seek to describe or define others.  Similarly, villain will not have to be labeled as such for his/her villainy will be obvious.  The voter, consequently, will not have to peel off labels and other identifiers. 

In a parallel universe there will be no place for the fly-by-night self-righteous.  No one will claim ‘I am principled,’ but instead the voter will assess the true weight of ‘principle’ in the overall political persona. 

In a parallel universe there will be no place for end-justifies-means politics.  The goodness of outcome desired and for the making of which support is solicited will be reflected in every step taken, every word spoken and every single act.  Authenticity will be discerned less by reflection on policy statement than on action, what is praised and what is condemned.  Short cuts will be avoided and short-cut-takers duly cut short.  Convenience will be abhorred.  Principled behavior even if it costs will be observed and rewarded. 

In a parallel universe there will be a level playing field.  There won’t be non-citizens with vested interests pumping money into campaigns or so-called civil society outfits that see election-monitoring as a business.  State resources would not be abused by the parties in power and those who have abused state resources previously and who are now at the receiving end of things will not cry foul.  The police as well as those in charge of running the election would be strictly impartial; there would be no arm-twisting of these officials by politicians. 

In a parallel universe candidates would respect one another, agree to disagree, recognize strengths as well as perceived weaknesses.  In a parallel universe candidates will focus less on personality than on policy and program. 

In a parallel universe would-be voters will not be bombarded with unsolicited text messages and emails.  Walls, trees, rocks and other surfaces natural and otherwise will not be covered with posters in a parallel universe.  Candidates and their supporters will work on the assumption that the voter is intelligent and quite capable of making informed and rational choices; they will not be taken as consummate morons who need to be ‘educated’ about what’s what and who is who. 

In a parallel universe, ladies and gentlemen, we would not see what we’ve seen over the past six weeks or so.  That must say a lot about the state of affairs in our nation.  It also says something about us, the voters.  We really can’t pat ourselves on our backs, can we?