A Reminder About the Nature of a Campaign for
March 13, 2010
During a campaign for political power, it is nearly impossible for individuals to behave alone. A lone person cannot campaign solely on behalf of his own ideas and expect to win an election—for which millions of people cast their votes mostly in congruity with their values and interests. Political campaign requires the coming together of like-minded people, organized under a haphazard or highly structured and disciplined party or coalition of parties. Parties may or may not have sound political programs, and they may range from sane to the insane in terms of how they behave and manage their political campaigns. Irrespective of their political programs and how they manage their campaigns, it still is the aggregate of like-minded people not the individual that nevertheless gives parties a political life of their own.
Parties are created by their members. If parties are forest, metaphorically speaking, their members are the trees that make them what they are. In other words, if Medrek is a forest, for example, Siye is the single tree of the many trees that makes Medrek what it is. During this pre-election campaign, it is important that we keep this metaphorical expression in mind. At least, it will make us prudent not to mistake the tree for the forest or the forest for the tree. Indeed, there may be times when we shouldn’t mistake Medrek (the forest) for Siye’s personal faults much like we shouldn’t mistake Siye (the tree) for the follies of Medrek that Siye might have rejected to sign on. In almost all other instances, however, the forest and the trees are as part and parcel to each other as a single branch is to its tree, unless one part is cut from the other part for any number of reasons.
It is worth repeating; during a campaign for political power, it is nearly impossible for individuals to behave alone—since the very nature of a campaign for political power dictates that people behave collectively no matter how sound their political agenda is. A campaign for political power is also the means and ends for disparate parties to entertain and debate their contentious political issues. In a way, it is the greatest chance they have to convince their people into buying their programs and visions in exchange for political power.
In all known forms of democracies, it is the programs and visions of disparate parties on national and international issues that normally fuel campaigns for political power. But on occasion, a personal qualm from a celebrated individual may anchor a campaign for political power. A political campaign rigged with personal qualm of a celebrated individual is a drag to a country and a drag to any form of democracy.
Nascent democracies cannot afford a personalized campaign for political power, especially if such a campaign is unduly venerating a single political personality. A misguided and unfounded veneration, accorded to a single political person induces in such a person a negatively charged sense of empowerment. Empowerment of the negative type is almost always the source of political and legal troubles to the negatively charged person and to the country that he or she aspires to lead. Ask Berhanu Nega; he will ascertain this fact in retrospect.
Once in a while, excessive veneration inebriates the negatively charged political personality for a lasting hangover. We have a living such personality to present as proof; and he’s our own cousin—Isayas Afewerki—the one man Eritrean state. No sane person would disagree, after watching his recent interview with Al Jazeera, about how negatively charged the political empowerment of Isayas Afewerki has become. All of what is negatively charged about Isayas Afewerki is courtesy of the excessive veneration that has been accorded to him by some of our Eritrean cousins on faulty assumptions. We sure don’t want his kind in our future leaders—leaders who are arrogant and self-righteous that would do anything and say everything in exchange for political power.
Venerated or not, the Ethiopian Parliamentary Election campaign for political power should not be about individuals, but about the greater challenges that are facing our beloved people and country. It should be about issues immeasurably greater than the political life value of an individual; it must be about us Ethiopians. Murmur, qualm, dissatisfaction, regret, resentment, hate and unreasonable personal complaints may be raised but should not at all anchor the spirit of the campaign. The spirit of the campaign should remain on debating the daunting political, social and economic issues of Ethiopia, but not on “litigating the past” on hearsay that few disgruntled political personalities are eager to utilize.