Through the looking glass

We are once again seeing politics interfering with what should be an impartial and independent judicial process.

“Same old, same old”. These are the words that come to mind over the past weeks, particularly these past days. This observation is being made on a two-fold basis, the first of which is political while the second is more personal.

Politically, we are seeing the same old tactics being used. We are once again seeing politics interfering with what should be an impartial and independent judicial process. Politicians passing judgements, calling for immediate resignations, and making calls that should be left up to the courts are counterproductive to the rule of law. Interference and undue influence on members of the judiciary remain unethical and illegal if done publicly under the pretext of it being of public interest. Not to mention that, at times, the presumption of innocence pending an outcome seems to be forgotten.

Public interest should have reigned supreme years ago when it comes to contracts of a public nature. There were means to ask for review without it being turned into a means to score political brownie points. The ones who proudly state that they filed the case before the courts should let the court do its work and be free to reach its deliberations without any form of coercion, which may include – but not be limited to – leaks to the press. I urge politicians from all political camps to let the courts do their work.

 

Negative, reactive politics

It constantly feels as though politicians’ lives and careers are viewed as a game of pin the tail on the donkey, one where the opposing party tries to pin stories or insults that stick until they hurt. This attitude is shameful because the same politicians and, with them, some from the general public, forget that behind every politician is a loved one.

Such an attack has in the past targeted someone I care about who was in politics. They were accused of something that law enforcement later found was nothing short of unfounded and conjured for political gain. At the time, today’s Opposition party was in Government, grabbing onto the seat of power, which is not owed to any party. History shows us that even a government’s own Members of Parliament can influence a call for early elections by a vote of no confidence.

The tactics instituted by the Nationalist Party over a decade ago are the same we are seeing today conjured through the same actors – negative tactics, and reactive politics aimed at influencing public opinion. Families and others related to the targeted politicians are still being subjected to abuse. Harassment, insults, and unfounded accusations that tarnish someone’s reputation are not something politicians’ relatives and friends should be expected to take because it “comes with the package”.

The questions remain: if you were a parent and someone insulted you in front of your child without any basis, how would you feel? If you were a parent and your child came home in tears and shaking from their first lectures at university because fellow students who share different political opinions insulted their parents, how would you feel? The answer of any parent would be, “You’d be angry; most likely you would tell your child to stand up to the bully”. Instead, politicians’ relatives and friends are told to “keep calm and rise above”. No one should have to “keep calm and rise above” when insulted or when told they don’t deserve a particular job or position, even though they break their backs to prove to others that they deserve it.

Politicians’ children

Growing up under the constant pressure of scrutiny and the expectation to “rise above” steals the carefree joy of childhood from politicians’ children. Privacy was possible in the 1990s and 2000s because social media and keyboard warriors did not exist yet. Today, the general population almost feels entitled to know politician’s children, and the politicians almost feel that they will lose out with the electorate if they don’t upload photos of the perfect family or the perfect relationship.  This reality is unjust – it is unjust to the politician who does not want to expose their loved ones to scrutiny.

I’m sure you’ll say there is privilege in being the child of a politician, but the pressure far outweighs any privilege. I’m sure that, if given a choice to have a more ‘normal’ life which has less privilege or none, but in which they are not taken advantage of and having a more ‘normal’ life, they would most certainly choose that option.

I end with this appeal: remember that behind every politician there is a family because whilst you might be typing at a keyboard spewing hate on things that are notional and part of the rumour mill, the politician’s family member is reading those comments is deeply hurt with what they are reading. Such comments have led to children straying from parents, and families breaking apart.

The political legacy political leaders should seek to leave is not one of hatred, but a legacy founded on respect towards each other notwithstanding the differences – a legacy of unity regardless of political divergence.

Photo: Ismael Sánchez

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