Rabat - In the talks of the canvassing regiments, contenders are vilified and rarely criticized. They are corrupt, embezzlers, traitors, incompetent, dishonest and have vested interests in running for public office. Servicing the community is the least of their priorities. Rarely has the discourse of opponents been analyzed methodically and systematically. At best, impressionistic and passionate accounts of the discourse of adversaries are iterated in public rallies and addressed to potential voters.
Rabat – In the talks of the canvassing regiments, contenders are vilified and rarely criticized. They are corrupt, embezzlers, traitors, incompetent, dishonest and have vested interests in running for public office. Servicing the community is the least of their priorities. Rarely has the discourse of opponents been analyzed methodically and systematically. At best, impressionistic and passionate accounts of the discourse of adversaries are iterated in public rallies and addressed to potential voters.
Listening to the leader of a team who knocked on my door, I had the impression that someone had told him I was stupid, simple minded and just landed from the moon the night before. Not only did he obviously lack basic communication skills, but he also spent little time doing his homework. He kept referring to a copy of the pamphlets he was giving away to explain the program of his party. When I opposed to his discourse the argument that others had tried to sell me the same product, he unleashed his hatred protesting that they are fakes and that they had highjacked the program of his own party and that none of them deserved my trust. He insisted they are out for personal interest, to maintain privileges and not to serve the community, and swore he would use my vote best, that he needed it. It occurred to me that this guy would have offered me a two hundred dirham bill had he met me in other circumstances.
The speaker of another team did not hesitate to insult the others and to associate them with Satan. They are demons who, like snakes, have given up their original skin. If I only I could open my eyes well I would see they had donned that of the cursed West. Their hidden intention is to hand us all over to Israel, to Zionists and to Imperialists. They should not be allowed to access power. They would allow women to go naked in the streets and gays to impose their will on us all. They would hire whores from all over the world for millions to sing and dance in festivals they organize to corrupt our children. Like the chameleon, they will change colors to protect themselves and principles to draw as much advantage from their environment as possible.
The third who talked to me had a single argument. Do not vote for the outgoing party. They have deceived everyone. They made everyone believe they are different, they cared for the poor and the vulnerable while they are as bad as the rest of them. They made promises they knew they did not have the competency to honor. They promised to improved living standards and ended up making it tougher for everyone to make ends meet. They increased prices, reduced purchasing power, increased retirement age and decreased pensions. They lie to people and hide behind religious discourse. They turned against those who supported them and brought them to power. How can they hope to gain their votes again. Look, they are seeking support in other segments of the population, those would buy anything wrapped in a religious package. When I stopped the guy and asked him to explain his program, his answer was very innovative. First to stop these …. from being re-elected and then we will do whatever the people want us to do, we will consult with people and involve them in making decisions as well as in implementing them. I was about to ask him how they intended to do that when he saw a neighbor getting into his home and took leave hastily and rushed to intercept him.
A friend of mine called me requesting to forward electoral material of a candidate was supporting to my contacts. It so happened that I knew the candidate had run for a party neither my friend nor I would support. I asked him to explain. The answer was more simple than I expected. The candidate had simply changed parties and is now running for another one at the other extreme of the political spectrum. I can’t blame my friend for asking, I myself was in the situation of sharing with a colleague of mine running for a party I would not vote for my earnest intention to vote for him had my choice been to vote for individuals.
One feature of the discourse of this campaign, and as a matter of fact of previous ones too, is the co-optation by all parties of the symbolic and charismatic figures of the nationalistic and the liberation movements as well as figures of famous scholars and thinkers regardless of their ideological references or their political choices. The memory of socialists fundamentally opposed to Islamist ideologies are thus conjured to beef-up the credibility of Islamist parties and Islamic citations are quoted to comfort the doubts of socialist votes with religious convictions.
After these experiences I knew who I will not vote for. They all need women candidates. They exonerate them from accusations of sexism and they are safer bets in some cases. The problem, however, is that not everyone is able to accept women as they see themselves and as they want and need to be and look. For many, women should not be bold enough to request independence, autonomy and intellectual freedom nor should they contest the decisions men take without them or despite them and contrary to their interests and rights. Most often, they are but safe-conducts to the emotional solidarity, and therefore to the votes, of women who would otherwise not even care to cast a ballot. Examples include women wearing various types of veil ranging from scarves to total Niqab to draw the most conservative votes. Others include women with militant feminism histories to gain women disappointed with men who have failed to meet their political and social aspirations for freedom, equality and parity. In both cases, women are used as symbols either for conservatism or modernism.
Very few exceptions, however, are to be found in what one might call the recent modernist left and the parties originating in some avant-guard civil society organizations. In fact, a party such as FGD, has elected a woman to chair it and a few other parties have entrusted major constituencies to women.
The campaign remains, to the mind of some observers, a bit lame as it denies those who call for boycotting the process the right to express their opinion and explain their choice to the population in the same way as others do. Supposing that the two parties and the one NGO that call for boycott represent only themselves, this, they argue, should not justify denying them this right nor applying coercive actions to stop them from enjoying their right to freedom of speech. Furthermore, there is no law that prohibits or criminalizes boycotting elections or inviting for that. Technically speaking, there is no legal difference in campaigning for or against an election. Both are political acts and expressions of opinion. Both should be guaranteed equally by the law. Had consensus been a valid base for deciding right and wrong, one would be tempted to qualify these organizations calling for boycott as false notes in the whole process and they should therefore not be allowed to spoil the symphony, but consensus has been proved times and again to be the worst basis for deciding what is right and what is not.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
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