Finding the real focus

Let us talk political debates. Because they are not only interesting, but also matter to the nation’s long-term dreams and objectives, the people are following closely and very intently.

As we inch closer to the poll day, the two political parties are becoming increasingly nervous. Their plans and programmes are coming down and changing shapes by the day. The voters are confused. Worse, the political parties seem to have lost their focus entirely.

The image of the whole process as they come down is this: the wide and clear road all of a sudden has petered out in the deep and wide void and edginess of the proverbial pilgrim is taking the form of ridiculous madness.

What is evident and a not-so-encouraging element in this election is that the political parties are unreasonably on the defensive mode. But there are also some saving graces to count in all these games. Getting at each other’s neck with pledges and promises is good. This must happen to win the votes of the electorate. What is more important, though, is that political parties should not take the voters for granted.

Undermining voters’ intelligence may be seen as profitable, but there is the latent power to explode out of that simple presumption. What we must celebrate and encourage is intense debate, which will automatically involve criticisms of political pledges and the party manifestos. That is how the electorate will have at least some idea of which political party to vote for. Party pledges could be loud and large, but what do they ultimately mean? Where are we going with them by the by?

These are the questions that the voters are throwing back to the political parties. Our national priorities have remained pretty much the same. But these very priorities have taken the back seat today. Do not undermine, more importantly do not make joke of the urgent realities that the voters are grappling with this day.

If there is any lesson to take home at this hour of national undertaking, it is this: as politicians, respect people’s needs and their intelligence.

But, more important, we must resist any form of infringement, both from inside and abroad. If there are reports of meddling here and there, arrest and show them to the people so that democracy as we understand doesn’t become a joke. This is the responsibility that we should exercise each individually as a citizen.

We have just about a fortnight to head to the polls. And this time factor, however small, matters for the nation. It is about the grand and all-encompassing national dreams we are fighting for, not for anybody outside of it. Let them not come in, and we will have served us well.

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