Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Who should fear whom?
Politicians are at it again. Those vying for a position in the coming election are throwing mud at each other. But it is not their foibles that gets me the goat. Rather it's more of their attitude being in office.
Why do they travel with guards trailing their car and with a siren to boot? They expect traffic to open like the red sea just because Mr. Senator is passing? Why can't they beat the traffic like us common citizen?
One would think that we, the citizens, owed them a debt of gratitude for their wonderful projects, and timely greetings (complete with badly photo-shopped pics). They project themselves as magnanimous benefactors, showering us with job fairs and flu vaccinations and only expecting in return our thanks and praise. Which seems like a fair exchange, until one realizes that they are behaving like a pilot who expects to be given a ticker-tape parade every time he is able to land the plane without anyone dying.
Let me repeat: They work for us! All of them. We are paying for their salary! From the lowest functionary to the President herself, whether we voted for them or not, whether we agree with them or not.
But it has become increasingly difficult to find a government official who does not believe and act like he/she and his entire family are entitled to his current position simply by reason of his identity. If you ever had a run-in with a high level official (or a member of his extended family), chances are the first thing you will hear is: “Don’t you know who I am?”
To which, I suggest, the most appropriate answer would be: I do, but you have obviously forgotten.
If we are to have the government we deserve, this must change.
In other countries, we can already see the writings on the wall. Some years back, a leading United States politician was brought down because he was filmed insulting a man with a racial slur.
In Iran we have seen a muffled populace rise up and break the state-imposed silence with the help of social media and a sympathetic international community.
A major British newspaper now provides an online platform in which British citizens can audit the digital records of allowance claims filed by the members of Parliament.
The Internet also allowed us simple citizens to unleashed our capacity for speech and participation which is previously not available. And with the arrival of camera phones and 24/7 mobile Internet, the time is fast approaching when secret backroom deals will be revealed to the public.
Our political leaders may not fear us now. But soon they will.