The great lie

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”.

Jay Weeldreyer and Andrea Prudente at Mater Dei Hospital
Jay Weeldreyer and Andrea Prudente at Mater Dei Hospital

Have you ever been on a first date, and the person you’re with says something about how much they love a movie you’ve never seen or a book you’ve never read, and you find yourself nodding in agreement so as not to seem silly or uncultured?

You then go home to google the plot synopsis or read the Cliff Notes to make sure you’re prepared for the next date (should the subject come up) and ultimately save face. It was never intended to be a malicious lie, it was just a panicked reaction to feeling inferior or being caught off guard, or wanting to be liked and seem agreeable.

Now multiply that lie by 516,869. That’s what general elections are like for most sitting MPs and candidates.

I ran my campaign – against all advice – like an open book. I never shied away from any topic, I never wanted to hide any of my views or lie to the people I could have been elected to represent, and I definitely didn’t want to lie to myself. This was a conscious choice which my team and I knew would set me back. The results speak for themselves – aside from a myriad of other flaws in the system which I won’t go into today, the public consumes politics and politicians in the most gullible way possible and with as little investigative prowess as the guy I dated for five minutes in 2011 who thinks I read the first instalment of Lord of the Rings cover to cover.

I have personally spoken to a number of the women currently in parliament, and they assured me that they too were pro-choice. (Just to be clear, being pro-choice goes far beyond accepting the currently tabled bill. Being pro-choice means believing an individual ought to be free to make their own decision about whether or not to have an abortion. This is not the subject of the bill recently tabled in Parliament).

Imagine my surprise when these same people sat behind the leader of the opposition and nodded while he mocked Andrea Prudente and her husband for going on a ‘babymoon’.

A ‘babymoon’, for anyone who might still be in the dark about what that entails, is an American concept which involves a couple travelling to another country in order to spend time with each other prior to the birth of their first child – the intention is the understanding that their lives will be turned upside down and their time to spend together will become more limited upon the arrival of their newborn, so they choose to make some new memories together to mark the momentous occasion. Why not go on holiday to celebrate if you have the means to? For all the naysayers, travel whilst pregnant is fine up to 36 weeks of pregnancy unless you have complications (something you can discuss with your doctor).

And yes, it is an ‘Amerikanata’ – just like naming those siblings with the same letter (looking at you Zane, Zedan and Zhania), or holding a gender-reveal party, a bridal or baby shower, or celebrating Thanksgiving every November – all things that have been transposed and assimilated into our culture over the years for better or for worse.

My decision to contest the general election while still being true to my beliefs came from a place of complete disillusionment. I was so fed up with hearing that politicians are dishonest and politics is a dirty game. I couldn’t believe that people kept voting for the same people even when they were proving to be ineffective or corrupt. I wanted to prove that not everyone in politics has to lie to get to parliament, that not everyone has to pretend to be someone else, that the public can tell the difference between someone who is honest and someone who is fake and make a choice based on that, that they could see through the spin and BS and understand who they’re voting for, that they would cross party lines and vote for candidates they believed in regardless, that there could still be integrity in the game that everyone calls “dirty” – but alas, I was wrong.

To make it in Maltese politics you need to go to the village feast – even if you don’t enjoy being in crowds – drink Kinnie (even if you prefer Coke), pretend your less agreeable opinions don’t exist, put on your little crucifix necklace and pose for photos where you look more devout than the Pope, stop smoking in public even if you’re usually at a pack a day, and pretend you’re as pro-life as they come – even if that means sacrificing your real beliefs.

And for what? To contribute to a system that doesn’t even adhere to what you truly believe in?

There is a quote that is often incorrectly attributed to Albert Einstein – the actual origins of which are unknown and disputed –  and it is, in my view, perfectly applicable to the Maltese electorate that remains deeply disappointed by their elected officials and disconnected from the political scene in general: “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”.

We all need to do better.