YOU must have seen it at one time or another. Two pictures placed side by side in the comics section of your daily paper. At first glance, they may look like identical copies of each other, but as you check again, one of the pics has minute alterations that could only be spotted by a sharp eye and closer examination.
You could say that a striking resemblance of that is present in our elections. Since time immemorial, our past national elections have always been filled with the same template of players, consisting of an entire spectrum of entertainers, actors, sports people, wannabes and a handful of do-gooders who are there to make a dent or at least honestly want to make a change. These collections cannot be complete without that knockout pinch of old (with a few wizened) traditional politicians who are there as though the electoral exercise itself were nothing but a longevity contest. How long could they stay in power, that is. It is so easy to identify this cast of characters. In comparison with the daily paper’s cartoon section that features the earlier-mentioned ‘Spot the Difference’ puzzle, you could say they would comprise the “easy” portion.
A more difficult part comes when we, the voters, in our process of choosing whom to elect, sift through their various platforms adorned with their trove of motherhood statements. Almost always, we are bombarded by battle cries espousing vague sound-bytes like ‘change for the better’, ‘down with the old and on with the new’ and (my all-time favorite) ‘equality for all’. All may sound good to the ears but once a large chunk of these politicos are elected into office, these promises will seldom see fruition as their political parties pursue different agenda. Here is one concrete example. I was still in high school when improvement in agriculture had been used as a battle cry by countless trapos (short for traditional politicians, but with a playful tweak in the local dialect to mean “dirty rag”) down the line. Very little change. If you look now, that call is still being used, with slight variations. And many still buy it.
Finally, perhaps the most difficult part in the puzzle lies not in these players, future leaders and would-be lawmakers, whatever they should rightfully be called. The “boss” part of the puzzle are actually us, the voters, taxpayers and their constituents. Long ago, a friend who since then migrated posted a shoutout to all the electorate, dumbing us all that we rightfully deserve whom we put into office. When one thinks about it, that may sound a bit unfair. Nobody really knows how a candidate might fare once elected. Yet, I now see the context in such accusations. Most of us are like those two pictures in the puzzle. One looks so much like the other, save for a few minor changes. If our predecessors had tolerated idolatry, nepotism, regionalism and vote-buying then, the reality is not much has changed. What is pathetic about the whole thing is, while we pride ourselves to be woke, progressive and knowledgeable of history’s lessons, we only have to venture a few steps back in the past to see we’re still in the same spot.
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