These elections are confusing. At least, they are for me. We have to fill six different positions. I’m unclear on what each one is hired to do. And I don’t know the people that are running. I suppose I could check the constitution to find the difference between a senator/governor/county assembly. But it’s hard to understand legalese.
The first thing that would help me use my vote wisely is a comprehensive list – in English – of the job descriptions of the president, MP, governor, senator, county assembly member (prime minister?) and whoever else my vote is responsible for. That way, I know what skills are required for each position.
Then, I would need a list of the people in my constituency/county/ward that are running for each position. It would help to have some kind of track record for each. If all else fails, I could Google and hope that something comes up. This, incidentally, is the method I’m currently using to whittle down candidates for Nairobi Governor, and so far, it’s working.
Of course Google-ing only helps digital citizens. The rest of the country don’t give a flying *** about the stuff online. For them, the candidates might go door-to-door to make sure their constituents know them, and see what they’re about. Hopefully, the door-to-door campaigns involve issues, not grocery shopping, a t-shirt, or a few brown elephants.
There’s a larger problem though. It seems a lot of Kenyans simply don’t want to vote. They feel their ballots were ignored in 2007 and 2010. They stated their choice, only to see coalitions formed, constitutional provisions amended, and statutes overturned. As late as 6th December, Parliament amended the law that required senators and MPs to have post-secondary education. So, why bother?
Well, I have a few reasons. You might not believe in the current crop of politicians. But if you don’t do something about it, they’ll just worm their way back into power. So far, only 40% of the voting population has registered.
That 40% might just be supporters of that candidate you don’t want. It’s only logical to register, and get everyone you know to register, if only to reduce the odds of some *** getting re-elected.
Two, a lot of strange things are happening. People are shifting their voting location, because of the timing of elections. Citizens who generally vote at their rural homes are now opting to vote where they work, because travelling in March will not be practical.
That means there’s a large section of ‘wild card’ votes around. Statistically, lots of places now have ‘new’ voters who aren’t as easy to manipulate. Your area candidate may not get the landslide he anticipates.
Number three: coalitions. A lot of them are simply ridiculous. They’re being cobbled together to form voting blocks without considering the opinion of the voters themselves. It’s very possible that these *** silly coalitions will end up alienating the voters, which, again, could turn the expected landslide against the coalition partners.
Now, logically speaking, with all these factors being in the air and up for grabs, isn’t it just possible, maybe even probable, that your chosen candidate could sneak in and succeed? And isn’t it worth registering, just for that?
And by the way, you can choose your own polling station. You don’t have to vote where you register. So you can sign up in the CBD but request the agent to list you at home, in shags, or at the polling station of your choice. Just so you know.
Let’s look at it another way. What if none of the candidates appeal to you? Well, think about it. Really think about it. There must be something admirable about one of the candidates. Try looking at things objectively. I recently read Sorry for the Lobsters by Neil French. In the book, he talks about a thing in Spain called ‘piropo’.
Basically, guys sit in a corner or at a bar and watch girls pass by. They have to say something nice about every single girl, in a soft, quiet voice, that flatters her without offending. Think of it as a construction site for gentlemen. The compliment could be anything – her shoes, her figure, her eyes, her hair, her voice … or even her elbows. The only rules are it has to be true, and it has to be kind.
Point is, there’s always something good about a person, if you just look for it. So faced with a crop of Kenyan candidates, play a little piropo with them. Out of the entire crowd of politicians, there must some positive attributes.
And once you’re done, pick the best candidate you can find. Perhaps you like angels dressed in green, but if you’re stuck in the rain, and you’re given a choice between the devil and a blue dress, you can’t just sit there naked. Well, actually, you could, but that would be really silly.
Here’s the thing. Voting doesn’t guarantee the candidates I choose will win. And even if they do, it doesn’t mean they’ll follow their campaign promises. I may end up just as disillusioned as I am now. But as long as I can vote, I have the chance to make my voice heard. So if it doesn’t work this year, or 2013, or 2018, or whenever, I just try again next election.
Kaboro made a valid comment. He said voting isn’t all we can do. He said we need to find other avenues to make a change. And we should. But voting is a good starting point. It’s an ideal way to make your voice heard, even if no-one listens.
If enough of us speak out, even if ‘they’ don’t want to listen, they can’t shut out the noise. So do yourself a favour – research, register, and please for the love of all that is sane, good, and beautiful in this nation, use your vote wisely.