Ten years of soul-searching later, we are ready to govern

The Nationalist Party has spent the past ten years soul-searching, listening to the electorate and mapping out a clear vision for our country. We are now ready to govern

PN leader Bernard Grech
PN leader Bernard Grech

Robert Abela has been dodging a debate for years. This week we finally understood why.

Even when the odds are stacked against Bernard Grech, he comes out on top.

To lack the ability to see beyond that which you were brought up seeing, that which you are used to, and that which you have been exposed to for years, is not a sign of loyalty, but a sign of blind faith – and unless we’re talking about religion (the general election is in less than a fortnight, so we’re talking about politics) then honestly – blind faith has no place within our discourse.

Unfortunately, critical thinking has never been given the importance it deserves in our educational system. As a child, asking “why?” was often discouraged, because it’s annoying or because there is seemingly no end to the amount of questions a child can come up with about even the most benign things (my little brother once spent a full car ride asking me about grains of sand. This ended with a lesson in how to do research – to cover for the fact that I had absolutely no idea whether there are more stars in the sky or grains of sand on the beaches).

Our schools seem more concerned with how much we can remember and regurgitate rather than how we can apply the underlying principles of what we are learning. This does nothing to promote critical thinking.

I truly believe that the notion of critical thinking strikes fear in the heart of Robert Abela because a critically-minded electorate will be more likely to catch a government out, and put a stop to that which is unjust, corrupt or wrong.

And what about the existence of confirmation bias? ‘Confirmation bias’ has been defined as the tendency to process information by looking for or interpreting information that is consistent with our existing beliefs.

This is not necessarily done in a conscious manner, but rather it is our default setting as human beings. When you have a hypothesis, for example, “dogs make the best pets”, you look for a multitude of confirmations of this statement to prove your point. You research the term “dogs make the best pets”, put that in a Google search and find a number of articles written by people who agree with you. You cite those articles and suddenly your narrative becomes the unimpeachable truth, because “look how many people agree with this hypothesis!” But when we do this, we completely negate the opinion of anyone who might be allergic to dogs, anyone who might be afraid of dogs, or anyone who might be a cat person.

The important thing to note is that once we become aware of this tendency to look for information supporting that which we already know, it will allow us to broaden our horizons, change our perspective and begin to analyse critically.

The Labour Party subscribes to the notion of giving out as little information as possible in order to avoid the possibility of criticism. This is demonstrated in the absence of a published manifesto on the part of the Labour Party.  Robert Abela only published his electoral manifesto a week before early voting began, clearly afraid of public scrutiny. He has successfully avoided interviews, debates and has dodged questions by journalists for months now, and yet he expects you – the voter – to cast a vote for something you’ve barely had enough time to read (especially if, like me, you also work on the weekends).

The notion is in itself beyond reproach. Why would someone with nothing to hide and nothing to be ashamed of continue to dodge journalists’ questions and delay the electorate’s ability to analyse their proposals?

As the election is fast approaching, let’s broaden our horizons. If you usually get your news online, try a different website. If you usually watch one particular news station, watch a different one. If you listen to one radio station, maybe switch it up a little.

Let’s try to find our way out of the echo-chamber we’ve built for ourselves and entertain a different point of view. We might find ourselves pleasantly surprised as to what the future holds for our country.

Labour like to spin the narrative of a lack of għaqda” within the PN, because we dare to ask questions, because we have a difference of opinion, because we don’t all ask “how high?” when told to jump and because we’re not all yes-(wo)men. We aren’t muzzled – we’re encouraged to form our own opinions, to come together and discuss and build upon our different experiences to ensure that the final product is something that can truly better the state of our nation.

The Nationalist Party has spent the past ten years soul-searching, listening to the electorate and mapping out a clear vision for our country. We are now ready to govern.

Remember that it’s always easy to clap for the incumbent, but it’s a lot more fun to celebrate the underdog.