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‘People accept politicians lie but they still vote in hope’

Monday 8 August 2022 | Written by Ruta Tangiiau Mave | Published in Editorials, Opinion

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‘People accept politicians lie but they still vote in hope’
Rarotonga residents at a polling station waiting to cast their votes on August 1. Photo: MELINA ETCHES/22080109

Politics 101 – people don’t care how much you know, they want to know how much you care, even if it’s all lies – people expect, accept politicians lie but they still vote in hope.

August 8 is the 220th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar – 145 days remain until the end of the year. Nearly 21 weeks to fulfil those New Year’s resolutions and promises made to self and family that this year will be different. Has it? Will it? It is never too late to start, it is never too late to show yourself and others what you are capable of in a good way.

Te Maeva Nui is over and all who participated can be proud and indulgent in the praise bestowed upon them for a magnificent performance of colour, song and harmony gained from hours of sweat and tears as everyone came together for their islands production. Every year we are wowed by their performances, the choreography and costumes, the energy and excitement showcased to the sold-out audiences, then afterwards all is packed away and the emotive pride and drive for excellence slides away as a return to the hum drum of daily life remains.

We had an election in case anyone noticed and there was a lot of song and dance calling for curbing practices of providing kai kai buffets with enough leftovers to fill the boot of everyone’s cars. The result no big ra-ra meetings. I’m guessing giving away free motorbikes must fly under the radar? It was a quiet campaign trail with only cries of manifesto, manifesto ringing in our ears. What’s a manifesto and who cares?

A manifesto is a written statement declaring publicly the intentions, motives, views or a set of principles of its issuer. A manifesto should simply state what you plan to do in your role and what changes you would make. It isn’t an excuse to bad mouth your opposition or make unrealistic promises. One should think what voters would respond to well. 

Using big words in place of smaller everyday words may show a measure of intelligence but it also reeks of elitism and being a downright jerk. The time spent on saying we have a manifesto and they don’t was time wasted on throwing trumped up intellectualism at a community who aren’t dumb by any means but who respond to “speak my language and action” than to “look how fancy I sound rhetoric” (which is language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect, but which is often regarded as lacking in sincerity or meaningful content).

The casual approach of Prime Minister incumbent Mark Brown to throw in the question of medical marijuana into the voting ballot papers was strategic positioning. It made it look like the government was open to the popular idea without making any commitments in print via a ‘manifesto’ to follow any decision made by a majority at the polls.

He also dismissed all angst, anger and anxiety of the past two years by mentioning in an interview that there will be no criminalisation of the homosexuality bill. Just like that, with no cabinet debate or public review board. Two high profile subjects with a lot of public support were swooned and charmed into wide eyed belief days out from the election. Huh, if it is so easy to get decisions made why do we bother with petitions and policies, they apparently don’t hold any weight as has been demonstrated with the chlorine debacle, purse seine fishing and seabed mineral mining. 

Therefore, for all future important decisions all we need is to get the PM on board. As women the world over know if you have an idea ‘he’ will argue it, but if you make ‘him’ believe it is ‘his’ idea ‘he’ will do it, and make the decision and ‘he’ll’ take all the praise.

The Opposition leader Tina Browne said she was surprised at her party losing seats this election. A case of smugness behind her manifesto. Did she forget the key issues important to voters and constantly raised in the media that she supported the Government on? Raising politician’s wages by 45 per cent, she did say she would donate the extra to the community, did she? Who knows? Her party also supported the seabed mineral mining collaboration instead of a 10-year moratorium the public are calling for.

Being more concerned about the lack of educational intelligence of the government than with delivering what the people wanted to hear meant while she was throwing dirt at the Government, she was losing ground without realising it.

Politics 101 people don’t care how much you know, they want to know how much you care, even if it’s all lies – people expect, accept politicians lie but they still vote in hope.

Question if Mark Brown can hold his party’s position in power, what will he do – after campaigning they would fight corruption when his deputy’s pending theft and fraud case goes to court?