Call me mad, but I choose sanity

What was needed from the very start was a rational, forensic, clinical approach to solving a crime through evidence... not hot-headed, irrational emotion on all sides

The underlying root cause of our national psychological problem cannot be solved with general elections
The underlying root cause of our national psychological problem cannot be solved with general elections

Long before the election date was announced last Monday, I had already made up my mind not to be a part of this charade. I will not vote in this election. I am waiting for my voting document to be delivered, so that I can cut it in half and nail the two pieces to the doors of the two main parties. (Note: I might snip out a little corner for the Greens, too... but probably not, because I don’t hold them responsible for this mess at all.)

And yes, you well might be thinking: big deal? So what? Why are personal voting intentions anyone else’s business anyway? Why not keep them to myself?

Well, we live in a time of curious contradictions. Normally, that would be my response to anyone else’s declared voting intentions. I don’t give a toss how (or if) any of you vote myself. Just thought I’d get that out of the way from now, to spare myself a lot of pointless political discussions between now and 3 June.

Strangely, though, the people who will respond to my above declaration with a ‘so what?’ will also inevitably be the first to round on me aggressively with political arguments when the time comes. By not voting, I will be accused of:

a) Letting others take the decision for me instead (answer: so what? This election isn’t going to actually change anything that I think needs changing. Let others take that decision for me if they want to. It is a pointless choice anyway.)

b) Being an accomplice to (or part of) corruption. (The shortest but most expressive answer to this one is a sardonic belly-laugh. Why should I be more afraid of Labour’s corruption than the PN’s destructive drive for power at all costs? Especially when the PN has a history of corruption of its own? Never before have we been faced with such a choice of two evils. I won’t say corruption is the ‘lesser’ of these two evils; but I think I’ve made it quite clear that I don’t consider it the ‘greater’, either.)

c) Letting my country down by bowing out of the decision altogether (the answer to this one is longer than the others, so I’ll revert to ordinary article mode from now on).

Let’s get a couple of things clear. That our country is deeply (but deeply) ‘screwed’ – note: I have been advised by my physician to avoid four-letter words, but you know what I really wanted to say there – is by now completely visible to everyone. But to suggest that it has been ‘screwed’ by people who opt out of the political divide – as opposed to the ones who live and breathe the hatred that makes division inevitable – is to turn the entire argument on its head.

No: that’s the whole point. It is the ones who sustain an ‘us against them’ mentality, for its own sake, who are responsible for our current, dangerous levels of political tension. Again, I have thought long and hard about this... yes, I’ve said that before, and I might come across as a narcissist for repeating it now. But: how many people out there have been thinking as long and as hard as I’ve been thinking about this... i.e., to the point of literally making themselves sick? 

Well, I’ve made myself sick thinking about the root cause of this giant mess we are in. Part of that cause concerns a general political outlook common to many voters in Malta: and at the risk of grossly generalising, I can subdivide these voters into three basic categories.

First: the ones whose livelihoods (or even lives) depend on the outcome of any given election. This is probably the smallest category, but also the most important and influential. It will not escape notice, even by the most unobservant amongst us, that politics represents a livelihood to many people in this country. Just think of all the many ways people can come to depend on having ‘their’ party in government for financial (or even literal) security. You will normally recognise such people by the shrillness of their voices, and their obstinate inability to ever see things from any perspective but their own. Unlike the rest of the electorate, these are people who have a LOT to lose. 

Two: the ones who are firmly entrenched in one or the other of the two political camps, because – like Obelix – they were dipped into the cauldron of political prejudice at birth. These are the type whose contribution to a serious discussion about politics will be something like: ‘I was born a Nationalist (or Labourite)... and I will die a Nationalist (or Labourite)!” In other words, the ones who have ‘STUPIDITY’ and ‘IMMATURITY’ tattooed on their foreheads for all to see.

You will have guessed by now that I will not even bother with these two categories: except to say this. Distasteful as the first category appears to me, at least I can understand a necessity dictated by real, tangible financial concerns. I wouldn’t reason that way myself (but that’s probably because I genuinely have no financial interest, of the most microscopic variety, in the outcome of any election either way). But I can understand the onset of panic among people who reason that a change in government also means a change in absolutely everything for them personally. 

If it is at all possible to reason with this category (it clearly isn’t with the ‘PN/PL sal-mewt’ brigade, so I won’t bother), I would sincerely invite them to consider how much harm the long-term consequences of their personal dependence may be having on the country’s sense of self-perception. We can’t all be prisoners to your political exigencies, you know. Just think about that for a second; that’s all I ask.

The rest goes out to the third category: i.e., the ones who are firmly entrenched in one or the other of the two political camps, not for either of the above reasons... but because they genuinely believe (in most cases, on the basis of observation and logical deduction) that their chosen party is, in fact, the best option for this country. 

I have little to say about this category. Suffice it to say that I know examples in both camps, and have no reason to doubt their honesty. That alone should tell us something of the nature of the problem that is staring us all in the face.

 I may disagree with their conclusions (actually I have to, seeing as they are both saying diametrically opposed things)... but at least it is a sincere and politically legitimate position to hold down. 

If everyone approached politics this way, life would be a lot easier. Conversations would be a lot saner. We would still have our major political differences, naturally... but at least, they’d be the sort of political differences a country should have. It would actually be healthy to discuss things at that level, for both sides: because when convictions are built on empirical and rational thought-processes, they are (by definition) also open to persuasion by logical, rational means. And THAT is what discussion should be all about. 

But that is also why I will not vote in this election. The underlying root cause of our national psychological problem cannot be solved in this way. Not even the core issue of the moment (corruption) can. I’m going to sound narcissistic again, because I’ve said this from the beginning. What was needed from the very start was a rational, forensic, clinical approach to solving a crime through evidence... NOT hot-headed, irrational emotion on all sides.

Yet the country has opted for hot-headedness and irrationality; it opted for the ‘court of public opinion’. You cannot seriously expect me to along with that choice of direction, when I firmly believe it’s the last thing this country needs. 

So no: all things considered, I do not choose PN. I do not choose PL. And I certainly do not ‘choose Malta’, because that’s the one offer that’s not actually on the table.

Call me mad, but... I choose sanity.  And I’m feeling healthier for my decision already.

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