Voting. Back when I was simply excited to finally obtain what I believed to be a degree of influence on the way my country is run (disillusion followed fast). And back to when I probably voted for all the wrong people for all the wrong reasons.
It was a time when I still had some sort of confidence in the establishment. I don’t, anymore – it’s always a case of choosing what I hope will turn out to be the lesser evil.
And a time when I found familiar faces comforting and thought that a known name was the obvious choice because, you know, experience. I still hadn’t figured out that if it’s true power corrupts, then the longer you stay there the truer this becomes.
And so I voted, for the faces I knew, the names I was used to for a variety of reasons, without actually knowing what the funk I was actually voting for. Who were these people? What did they believe in? Were the skeletons in their closet the kind I could live with? I had no clue and no interest in finding out.
I would say that over 90% of voters still vote this way. They vote for Party X for family reasons, because it’s what they’ve been used to all their lives, because they have been taught to dislike everything the rival parties stand for. This estimate is by no means scientific. I simply use my eyes and ears when people talk politics.
Established politicians rarely put their priorities on the country’s needs.
I grew out of that phase very fast. It only lasted one election, in fact, before I realised that if I wanted a (slim) chance at actually influencing what happens in my country, I needed to carry out a bit of homework beforehand. And so I did. This is what I learnt.
Vote for the young ones. Established politicians rarely put their priorities on the country’s needs. So get them in there when they’re still fresh, full of ideals, when the seediness of politics has not yet messed with their minds. They’re the ones who will drag the country into the future. The older ones will always be in favour of the status quo, because it’s more likely to suit their personal interests and beliefs. Then, when they become jaded, kick them out and start from scratch.
Don’t treat them like gods. If we do, then they will act like it. They are there to serve the country, and to serve us, and we forget that all too often. The ‘Onorevoli’ in front of their name is not there because they are special, despite what they might think. It is because it’s the office they hold that is special and they better damn well remember that and honour it. There should be no space for precious princesses in parliament.
There will always be corruption. Much like every restaurant kitchen will always have roaches, every government will always have its own roaches, too. What matters is the way these roaches are dealt with. Whether a government reacts appropriately or whether it chooses to facilitate corruption and make it part of the accepted institution. Pulling an Azerbaijan should never be on any government’s (undeclared) electoral manifesto.
Always vote, even if you really don’t like anything these people are saying. Do what I do, and vote for those who make your skin crawl at a lesser level. This means that when – months after the election – you’re all annoyed at the winner’s latest mess up, you don’t need to feel like an total loser because you failed to make a choice when you had the opportunity to do so.
Malta is not Nanna Ċetta, peering from behind the persjana and never talking to the neighbours unless it is to bitch about those other new neighbours. We do not operate in a vacuum and good relations with our neighbours are a must. Choosing a government that has no idea of protocol, that ignores our neighbours or – worse – treats them like enemies while claiming they’re out to get us, might not be the best strategy ever.
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