When the Electorate is Deemed as Gullible

‘Gullible’ is a lovely word. Its definition is basically: ‘easily deceived or duped, naïve, easily cheated or fooled.’ It was considered a neologism as recently as the early 19th century. The first attestation of gullibility known to the Oxford English Dictionary appears in 1793, and gullible in 1825. The dictionary gives gullible as a back-formation from gullibility, which is itself an alteration of cullibility.

It is not merely one person which might be deemed as gullible. A whole group of people can be referred to as gullible. Now, if the group in question are gullible or otherwise, that is another matter altogether.

The local conservative opposition has had a proven track record spanning more than a decade of underestimating the Maltese electorate. I have written various articles on this medium underlining the paradoxical scenario within the vast majority of the echelons and schisms within the Nationalist Party that whole-heartedly believe that the local electorate is wrong when they opt for Labour instead of opting for the God-given right of the Nationalist Party to rule the country.

But there is another phenomenon at play here as well. A phenomenon which political commentators take for granted and do not dwell on its immediate and long-term consequences.

A big chunk of the PN top brass, especially its supposed marketing gurus and spin doctors, actually believe that the electorate is gullible. 

A big chunk of the Nationalist Party top brass, especially its supposed marketing gurus and spin doctors, actually believe – or act as if they believe – that the electorate is gullible. They honestly think that they can get the electorate to believe that they are living in a different Malta than the one we actually live in.

One minute the present Police Force and its top officers are referred to as heroes, the next minute a political lynch mob acting as judge and jury commit the Commissioner of Police to the dregs of incompetency.

They repeatedly refer to the decrease of standards of the local educational system and the next day official figures compiled by impartial European institutions announce precisely the opposite.

They consistently attack the government for not doing anything about the rule of law and the next day the European institutions tell us precisely the opposite and commend the government for its zeal in the subject matter.

They attack the government for being the executioner of the environment in Gozo and Malta, only to have the European President congratulating Malta for its eco-environmentally friendly initiatives which should be mirrored in other EU countries.

They actually announce a general election for the 27th of November, only to be told by the Prime Minister – the latter being the only person who holds such a prerogative – that there will not be any elections at all in 2021.

The list goes on and is tedious, repetitive and honestly annoying. Insulting one’s intelligence once might be an honest slip-up. But repeatedly creating local scenarios which are not compatible with the truth is basically thinking that the electorate is gullible and that the opposition can take the Michael out of the electorate.

We are daily given overdoses of a fictional Malta: that the economy is stagnant; that crime is everywhere; that the educational system has collapsed; that journalists are in dire danger of being lynched to a pole or worse; that there is a catastrophe in our handling of the pandemic; that the Nationalist Party in opposition made all the foundation stones and blueprints for the massive roads infrastructure witnessed in these last four years…

Where does all this stop?

Where do all the wild accusations, finger pointing and breast thumping stop?

Where do all the wild accusations, finger pointing and breast thumping stop?

The seemingly impossible concept of ‘constructive criticism’ has been not only lost and left by the wayside but has become a possible mark on any opposition frontman that he/she is not ‘Nazzjonalist’ enough if he/she embarks on such a mode of criticism. To be a true ‘Nazzjonalist’, one has to personally attack the other side, try to destroy and/or discredit the proposals and the work committed by the government and, worse still, create the illusion that nothing whatsoever is right and proper from the myriad of initiatives that Labour has introduced throughout these years.

Famed science fiction author Arthur C Clarke once stated that there is the possibility that humankind can outgrow its infantile tendencies, as I suggested in Childhood’s End. But it is amazing how childishly gullible humans are. I would indeed be gullible to believe that these tendencies within the Opposition vanish into thin air. If anything, these last five years have shown us that this trend within the Opposition has become even more entrenched and mainstream.

In the meantime, the electorate, precisely because the latter is not gullible, will again condemn and send yet another message to the Nationalist Party in the coming elections.

As they say, hope dies last. My hope is that after the elections, the opposition will this time heed the electorate and reinvent and reinvigorate itself, not for its own sake but for the sake of democracy.

After all, who wants to go and watch a football match when you already know the score outcome?

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