For those who follow American politics, one stable of campaigns in the recent years and now even arguably indispensable, is “negative campaigning,” which can be described as taking factual information about your opponent and either highlighting it, if it is unfavorable as it is, or simply distorting it to paint a picture about your opponent that makes him or her less or not attractive at all as one worth voting for.
Negative campaigning is related but different from from telling bold or outright lies, which is equally practiced in American politics but less so at least relatively speaking and often backfires on those who engage in it.
A hybrid between the two is also practiced in plenty and this is this is the subtle lying that has become the specialty of the Conservative Broadcast TV, led by Fox Television under their blatantly misleading slogan “Fair and Balanced”–which none of its channels are and its comrades at war against Democrats, the Conservative Talk Radio led by their loudest loudmouths, the Big Fat Idiot/ Rush Limbaugh.
There are many similarities between American politics and Kenyan politics and more so between President Obama’s prospects for reelection and Prime Minister Raila’s reelection.
A complete analysis of these similarities or comparisons would entail penning a piece beyond what time allows but there is plenty of time to examine in a limited way how voters receive negative information and outright lies in the two countries.
There are Americans who would buy hook, line an sinker lies against President Barrack Obama peddled to them by the likes of the “birthers”–those who peddle the lie that Obama was born in Kenya and therefore an “illegitimate” president since only those born in the US qualify to seek the presidency and the aforementioned Conservative Broadcast and Talk Radio, which on any given day are peddling one lie or another against Obama.
These are are no different from the Kenyans who would buy hook, line and sinker lies peddled against Raila by his opponents.
This group we can call it Group A, and let’s for analysis sake describe it as those voters who would buy anything negative about those they oppose or don’t care about their candidature and will never vote for the candidate no matter what.
Conversely, we have a group of Americans who would not buy anything negative peddled against Obama and would vote for him regardless and ditto for Raila.
For analysis sake, let’s describe this as those voters who would see no evil or hear no evil about their man or woman in a race and would vote for him or her regardless of what’s being said about them.
This group we can call it Group B.
Then there is a third group that intersects the two groups and would vote for Obama or Raila based on whether they are convinced that either is a better candidate of those seeking to challenge him, in the case of Obama, or “stop” him, in the case of Raila.
For analysis sake, let’s call this the group of voters who are genuinely independent and would objectively look to evaluate a candidate as a whole, taking into account both the lies and known truths about them.
This group we can call it Group C.
My thesis has been and continues to be that politics in Kenya has at least since the advent of multipartyism been influenced and actually determined by those in either Group A or B, and never those in Group C, depending where the tribalists and tribalism lovers find home that election year.
Given this, yours truly has postulated and continues to preach that in order to fundamentally change politics in Kenya and transform the country, the next president must successfully move people from both Groups A and B to C and make Group C the majority that puts him or her in office, not exclusively those in either Group A or B.
This is what yours truly sees Raila and ODM doing and, as he has been saying and continues to, victory utilizing this model, is not only victory for the victors, it would be victory for the country as a whole.
Conversely, few would disagree that those bent on “stopping” Raila from be reelected president are wholly relying on a strategy to lie, lie and lie their way to State House, if they could, with the help of those in Group A, driven only by tribalism and nothing but tribalism.
Their victory would not only be a defeat of the progressive forces and agents of transformative change, it would be a loss for the country to the extent they simply don’t have an articulated agenda other than “stopping” Raila from being reelected.
No one can make a plausible case such an agenda would be a victory for Kenya in any way.
The good news for Raila and ODM, however, is there are many in Group A or B willing and ready to receive that message of hope and transformation and to accordingly move to Group C, even in the face of this dogged determination by those scheming to defeat the spreading of such a message.
Who shall prevail?
Let’s all hope those with a message of hope and transformation; at least let’s hope a majority of those going to polls do and vote accordingly.
Such victory will mark an end to tribalism as we know it and the ushering in of an era where neither tribalism nor outright lies and distortions are the major determinative factors in at least presidential elections.
Peace, Unity and No More Tribal Politics in Kenya