The unbearable lightness of pandering

Our politicians should be people of substance, people with a solid track record in the areas of policy that matter to them (and to you)

Now that we’ve officially started 2022’s electoral race, you only need to open one of the local newspapers to find a clickbait headline pandering to some sector of the electorate. 

Crucial issues that should be at the forefront for any government, but ignored in favour of corruption and cronyism, are now, finally, being given centre-stage. Now, we are suddenly aware of the importance of green spaces, the protection of our mental health and the plight of pensioners. 

With the next election mere weeks away, it is important that you know the candidates running in your district. If you’re still not sure, that’s okay too - there are a number of ways to find out.  

First you’d need to check your district, and then read through the list of candidates – you’ll find me listed under districts 9 and 10. There are also a number of independent lists encompassing all parties’ candidates available to you online. 

Once you know your district and the candidates running in your district, it’s time to do some research. What are you looking for in a candidate? What are the issues you care about? Do a deep dive into the candidates, google their names, check what they’ve done, try to find a CV of sorts, organisations they’ve been involved in, where they’re from, etc. This information will help you discern the snake oil peddlers trying to buy your vote at the eleventh hour and those candidates whose track record is evidence of their integrity. 

Are the candidates new candidates, or are they candidates who’ve experienced multiple legislatures? If they’re experienced candidates then that’s easy – how have they conducted themselves as politicians? If they’re new candidates, then it’s time to ask whether they are they actually new in the way that they do politics and conduct themselves, or if they are they simply more of the same - a rebranded, repackaged version of what we’ve come to expect of our politicians.  

What makes a person a great – not merely an adequate – politician? You need to ask yourself if you’re content with the status quo, or if you’re ready for a change. Most of the people I’ve spoken to are fed up of the way politics is conducted in Malta; they think it’s dirty and ugly and a game with nary a winner in sight. 

They talk about choosing the best of both evils, often citing clichés such as “better the devil you know...” I can understand where they’re coming from, and I truly do sympathise – the politics those of my generation and younger have been raised on (hands up if you’re a 90s/00s baby), as well as what previous generations are used to, is one where politicians seem more concerned with babies kissed, photo ops at inaugurations on long stretches of tarmac, and big red ribbons cut with comically sized scissors, than one where we ensure an adequate quality of life for all. 

But there is an alternative. Our politicians should be people of substance, people with a solid track record in the areas of policy that matter to them (and to you). 

We must move away from the tiresome use of political rhetoric to manipulate the electorate. Politicians should not use your time to pander to you, to tell you all the sanitised things that they know you want to hear, including but not limited to how much they love their village patron saint, their grandparents, making cookies for bake sales, and kittens – because while all of these things may be true (and are subjectively good things to be passionate about), one needn’t be a festa-going-cookie-baking-grandparent-loving-cat-person to write good policy, and that same festa-going-cookie-baking-grandparent-loving-cat-person may also write absolutely terrible policy. 

We need to be wary of strangers bearing gifts – for these gifts may not materialise, and once they haven’t materialised, there’s not much we’ll be able to do about it, as it will be far too late by that point in the legislature to hold anyone accountable.  

Let us move towards greater political integrity and a culture that requires politicians to run on proposals of substance that define them and their past, current and future actions. Let us reiterate the importance of running on real, solid and tangible ideas that benefit society as a whole.  

Let us vote for candidates who are unafraid to say what they think and who stand up for what they believe in. 

What I can personally attest to is that you will know where you stand with me. I’m happy to listen, discuss and dialogue with any and everyone, and to do so with kindness and empathy. I decided to run for this election as part of that segment of society that was truly fed up with the way things were being done, with the way politicians conduct themselves, and the way policy is made, and I have absolutely no intention of being more of the same.  

And for the record, I love how beautifully decorated everywhere is during the festi, I adore spending time with my grandparents, I bake a pretty good chocolate chip cookie, and don’t even get me started on puppies (and kittens too if I’ve got some antihistamines on hand) – lest our current political climate makes a story out of this and my article provides fodder for pastizzi-gate 2.0.