Although Donald Trump was acquitted from inciting an insurrection, which led to the deadly assault on the US Capitol, the broad consensus is that he was rabble-rouser in chief.
Beyond his policies, through his tweeting and other outlandish comments, he continuously passed incendiary comments about religious and ethnic minorities, about women, the disabled and anyone else who dared cross his path.
Sadly, his adherents, Trumpeteers, not only applauded him on but trolled whoever disagreed with him.
As a result of this acrimonious environment, the United States of America failed to live up to its name.
Over on our turf, the recent spate of spiteful online trolling and other vile public comments, threats to life, ridiculing of disabled people and the inappropriate and aggressive use of language is dragging us once more into the pits.
Acting like true Trumpeteers, our local trolls make their own repulsive comments through a number of pseudo politicians and other rabble-rousers, unleashing hatred and slander.
Under the disguise of freedom of expression, some choose to mudsling, bully, humiliate and promote fake news with little consideration for the consequences.
A return to being a deeply polarised, rancorous nation, as we experienced in the 1980s, would surely not be a feather in our democratic hat. Those were dark days indeed.
We must acknowledge that words have power. They can build us up or they can tear us down. Language can be constructive and inspiring or it can be destructive. One word can be uplifting, another can condemn one to a living hell. A word can make a whole difference.
Our language and our choice of words reflect who we truly are, what we stand for and what type of politics we endorse and promote.
Politics is the noble art of making our society a better place- Albert Buttigieg
Politics is the noble art of making our society a better place, a more humane and just state for all. Politics is about promoting policies rather than personal issues.
Differences of opinion are a sign of a healthy and mature democracy. A healthy, vibrant society is composed of various political statuses in which all converge on safeguarding and promoting the common good. Otherwise, we will reside in tyranny.
It is in the interest of society to encourage, celebrate and safeguard different voices rather than ridicule or suppress them. We can agree to disagree, but we do not need to get personal and cruel. This is not only demeaning to oneself but undemocratic.
Voltaire said: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” If we are not going to respect this fine demarcation, many citizens who have the potential to serve our country will be disheartened. This in turn will lead to a political vacuum, with personalities who are unfit for purpose taking up their place instead.
Before election fever sets in, all political parties, including their respective leaders, should come together and agree to adhere strictly to a code of ethics. The Electoral Commission should religiously regulate and monitor its implementation.
The electorate also have a responsibility to ensure that those they elect are truly persons of high moral standing who inspire us rather than being demagogues.
For the good of our society, it must be made amply clear to all that zero tolerance is to be applied to any hate speech.
All political leaders, candidates, party activists, political commentators and others must dissociate themselves from any rabble-rousers, whose sole aim is to stir the pot and play the prima donna.
We do not need social agitators or demagogues. We need social enablers for a better Malta.
Let us not forget that although we have and ought to have different points of view, after all is said and done, we remain brethren.
We must go beyond our differences and seek the common good.
Let then our political discourse be inspired not by words of hatred and division but by the language of peace and unity.
Do we need Maltese Trumpeteers? Surely not.
Albert Buttigieg is mayor of St Julian’s and PN candidate.
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