>Co-Sign: Perfect Political Writing

>Just read a great article that everyone in Ghana needs to read, absorb and have an opinion on…

… especially if you blindly follow (or lead) these political parties who seem to assume that the electorate is not only unintelligent but lacks the capacity to develop intelligence.

I am pasting the article below, but I highly recommend that you subscribe to the Ghana Elections 2008 blog from which I pulled it.

Credit: www.africanelections.org

Sowing the Seeds of Disappointment -Election Diary

The late British politician, Enoch Powell, is credited with one of the most astute and prescient observations about politics: he said that “all political lives, unless they are cut off in mid-stream at a happy juncture, end in failure, because that is the nature of politics and of human affairs”. No matter how much politicians may strive to achieve “the best” for their people, expectations will ALWAYS overtake what can be realistically achieved.

That is part of human nature, but also it is because politicians always overestimate what they can do, especially when they are in opposition. This leads to gross over-promising which inevitably leads to disappointment, disaffection and frustration, if the party wins office and is seen not to have fulfilled its promises.

This classic scenario applies to the situation of both the NPP and NDC as they struggle for our votes in this year’s election. However, it is the NPP that appears to bear the brunt of people’s disappointment. In its manifesto, the NPP has catalogued many achievements in all spheres of life and they are impressive. And yet when you speak to many young people they say that the NPP has not fulfilled its promises.

It appears that the cause of this sentiment is a promise made during the 2000 campaign that the NPP would create hundreds of thousands of jobs for young people. It is the sort of vague campaign promises that are made every day in every political campaign across the world but it appears that this particular promise raised huge expectations of the NPP, which in power could NEVER be fulfilled.

Let us leave for the moment the fact that the government per se does not create jobs except for the few within the civil service. This promise could not be fulfilled because even if all the unemployed youth of 2000 found jobs, there would be many more young people in the job market by the end of the government’s term of office.

The NDC is in a similar bind. It is making promises which people simply cannot square against the party’s performance in office from 1992 to 2001. Even worse for the NDC is the fact that many of the dramatis personae in its long life on the Ghanaian political stage were also part of the PNDC – a period that is remembered with less than fond memories in Ghanaian minds.

To put it mildly, there is a huge credibility gap in the public perception of the manifestos of the political parties, especially the NPP and NDC. People just do not believe that the parties mean what they are saying or will do what they are promising. This may be a tad unfair but the incredulity is rooted in the country’s political culture and how the two parties have conducted themselves in opposition and in office.

In Ghana, it appears that political campaigns are all about promises and thus a key benefit of campaigns, which is public education, is completely absent. For example, political platforms are used elsewhere to explain policy choices and why particular parties are making the choices they are campaigning on. The current campaign in the US is, in effect, a national class on issues such as taxation, energy, the environment, foreign affairs, and of course the on-going financial sector crisis and possible recession.

Also absent is any appeal to the electorate to play its part in national development, or even the peaceful conduct of the elections. It is astonishing that some political parties keep exhorting the government to ensure peaceful and fair election but do not urge restraint on its own supporters and cadres.

President Kennedy famously called on Americans during his inauguration in 1961 not to “ask not what America can do for you, but what you can do for America”. This kind of elevated rhetoric which places the burden of development on the citizen is largely absent from this campaign. At the very least, the politicians, when they promise the earth, could also tell the electorate to pay the taxes that will make it possible for those promises to be redeemed.

3 thoughts on “>Co-Sign: Perfect Political Writing

  1. >How -ever- will our greedy, power drunk politicians get to ‘chop chop chop’ ‘wonna moni’ without big promises to us lazy people who equally fail to hold them to task when they do fail us? The vicious cycle is is made up of 2 simple steps -1.they goof, and 2.we vote them back to power; based not on issues, but on some flimsy, petty criteria like tribe, religius affiliation, and in case you’ve not noticed, t-shirts and a few cedis thrown at us at campaign platforms. When at all will we learn!


  2. >Really good article. I think there is definately a tendency in Ghana not to vote on the issues or policies of particular parties but maybe on:1. Ethnic/Regional affiliation2. Family affiliation3. Personality of the Presidential candidate4. Ideological leaning5. Monetary inducements *maybe*6. Desire to kick an incumbent party out of office or prevent a previously incumbent party from returning to office But then again, people in other parts of the world do not necessary vote on policies either. Research has shown that American voters do not necessarily vote on economic policies that are in their own best interests. This is explored indepth in “The Myth of the Rational Voter”. Studies also indicate a the role for emotion rather than rational thinking in deciding who to vote for. I do think that there is an issue of lofty promises made on the campaign trail that may never be fulfilled. But then again if the NPP, NDC, CPP, PNC, DFP are all making promises that may not be attainable, who is there is vote for? The lesser of all the evils?


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