Rhona Canoy .
SO… I got into a taxicab a couple of days ago and, as is my wont, I started a conversation with the gentleman. Touching on the most common topic of late, we talked about the obscene amount of money to be won by lotto. He dreamed about being able to get the chance to see the world, and to retire early (he looked to be in his early fifties). He talked about fearing for his life if people knew he had won, and he talked about giving away money to all the hard-working taxi drivers in the city. Inescapably, the conversation then turned to next year’s elections and he wondered how much the going rate would be for “election showers.”
We didn’t talk about who we heard was going to run, we didn’t talk about what the current issues were, we didn’t talk about whether the elections would be credible. He talked about how much he hoped to be able to collect, along with the other voting members of his family. It made me sad, as it does whenever the topic surfaces. We want so much for our society. We want change, we want integrity, we want to end corruption, we want economic stability. But then we want officials who will serve our personal needs, we want candidates who will promise us the moon and not deliver, we want money to determine how we are going to vote.
The constant recurring discussion which cycles its way every three years doesn’t seem to be changing any time soon. People who seem sensible make statements which are hard to comprehend. In one breath they will talk about how they look for worthy candidates to seek office, and also about how much money these worthy candidates are going to need in order to get elected. A rather unbalanced thought, if you ask me. How can a candidate be worthy if he or she is going to have to do the dirty political dance? Maybe my view is too idealistic or too simple.
But then again, what is “too idealistic”?
Basically, what it will come down to is this–the fattest wallet wins. Not the best person for the job, not the one with the most sincere commitment to the office being sought, not the one with a vision for the betterment of everybody. Oh, yes. They are going to do their best to appear honorable to get elected. That is par for the course. But I often wonder… if they were willing to start their political journey making questionable compromises, can’t we assume that they will do the same once in office? And how did we contributed to getting them there?
No matter how we try to raise our electorate’s moral foundation, we must admit that it is a steep, uphill battle. It is difficult to make people understand that once their votes have been bought and paid for, that the politician owes them nothing more. Not honest service, not concern for the well-being of the community, not any commitment to the growth and development of our city or our country. Nothing, actually.
Everything that they do is then to be determined by their desire to be desirable, to perpetuate their seat in politics.
Discussion about the anti-dynasty law and the closed-end number of terms an elected official may stay in power always brings different opinions. I’m a bit lost here because these concepts are actually counter-intuitive if one stops to think about it. The people who push for the anti-dynasty law do so because they are tired of seeing the same people staying in or coming back to office. Or seeing their family members enter the business. And yet, if these people stay forever, isn’t that also the voters’ accountability for keeping them there? Where is the respect we should have for the individual’s right and freedom to vote for whom they please, no matter the justification? Whether it’s because they believe in that candidate or whether they were given money to vote in their favor, the vote was cast without coercion. A sad state of affairs, but true. Wouldn’t depriving them of the right to vote for people of their choice constitute a violation of their human rights? And doesn’t corruption then start with the act of voting?
And in the midst of these bleak statements, I’m tossing my hat into the local political ring one last time. I’m tired of hearing myself complain so I’m going to have to put up or shut up.
Considering all the returnees already lining up, I suppose all I can do is hope that we have more cerebral voters. At the end of the day, I know that I would wreak havoc if I were to sit on the city council and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a comedy of errors. Enough people are telling me they look forward to it.
But then these people haven’t seen me be my most irrepressible, my most out-in-left-field, my most opinionated, my most madly alternative (and that’s the mildest description I have) self.
The idealist in me will always believe that there is hope. The idealist in me will always believe that things will get better. The idealist in me will always believe that we could have a city worth caring for if we all work together. So for now, it’s time to say goodbye to these wonderful column inches that EIC Herbie Gomez has granted me each Saturday for the past two years, and to say thank you to all of you who have tried so hard to make sense of my insanity. I hope I’ve given you some things to think about, laugh about, talk about. It’s truly been cheaper than psychotherapy. I suppose I’ll see you on the other side, wherever and whenever that may be.