WHO or WHAT? Politicians or Ideologies?

There is something about the way people treat politics that I have never fully understood. More specifically, it bothers me how easily people blame all their problems on politicians.
We demonize them, accuse them of sinning against humanity, make them responsible for absolutely all our troubles, and peek into their private lives to condemn them for their mistakes.

Now, while I won’t deny many politicians deserve a mob to raid them off their priviledged positions… Guys, it seems like we’re forgetting the whole meaning behind democracy. WE choose our representatives in the government.

My thoughts regarding the subject started when I was very young. I usually talk a lot about the 90’s and 00’s, when everything here went to hell.
I remember watching people on TV curse the president(s) with all their might, call for the people to go to Plaza de Mayo (from where the president governs), and manifest there, bring the people responsible out. In 2001, Fernando de la Rúa had to leave the place in a helicopter.
“Que se vayan todos” came to be the words by which that time in history will be identified forever -at least to me. “We don’t need politicians”, “they are all corrupt”, “we’re better off without politics”.

Now, granted, those were times of terrible social drama. Many people crossed the poverty line during that time. The manifestations were incredibly violent, and many people died at the hands of the repressive police body.
It was such a traumatic experience for everyone, to the present day there are still social groups that claim to be a-politic with pride holding their heads up, as if that was a compliment to their honor.

Again, I’m not defending the bastards that lead my country to its worst crisis; nor the rest of the corrupt people governing the world through history, and even right now. But I must admit that it’s shocking how people lay the blame so easily on the most visible faces, before looking a themselves and thinking “well, I did vote for the bastard”.

Moving away from my country for a little, where things now are anything but a-political, I find people behave in similar, yet slightly different ways in places like, for example, the US.
Just the other day I found an article that presented the readers with the following question: “how can the people trust a political leader that is known to have cheated on his/her marriage?”. It seemed odd to me that anyone would connect both issues.

I don’t care about this or that politician’s marital life. I care about them being politically honest and similar to my views, and to act according to their ideology. Whatever happens between they and their partners is honestly none of my business.
People might argue: “ah, but if he isn’t loyal to his/her wife/husband” -or something of the sort- “then how can you expect him to be loyal to his ideals?”. Well, since when do they have to be related? If you learned that the cashier at the supermarket is cheating on his wife, would you stop going to that supermarket?

People seem to forget all too often that the political life of politicians is their job. Sure, it’s a complicated world, there is a lot at stake, and they have a lot of personal involvement on it. But it is separated from what happens inside the walls of their homes.

And yet, the media obsesses with stuff like that.

The reason I’m bringing this up, is because I whole-heartedly believe that this way of thinking truly hurts politics. It ends up personalizing political ideals, and that is the worst thing you can do -and one of the points where I differ from peronism.
I think that it’s good to admire politicians, and to support them -but what you really need to fight for is not a leader, but an ideology. People are finite, and imperfect. Ideals can embrace people through generations and bring them together for the future. Depending on a single person is not a smart strategy on a long-term basis.

We need to stop treating politicians as celebrities, as saints, as demons, and start seeing them as what they’re supposed to be: representatives of a political party of this or that ideology.

I don’t know, this really bothers me.
During the year I was chosen to be the student’s centre’s president, I attended many reunions with lots of other centres, and their representatives. There, I saw the same mistake being committed over and over again, only in a slightly different way: the question they wanted to answer was “who are we fighting against?”.
I would usually stand up in the middle of heated discussions of blame being thrown here and there, only to say that looking for an enemy was what a short-sighted organization would do. That we need to find an ideology that represented all students, objectives to fight towards. Sure, it’d be more difficult, because building is always more complicated than destroying. But, in the end, it would be worth it…

Of course, I was epicaly ignored by most people, who only cared about pushing their parties’ structure further into our students’ organizations. Now-a-days these organizations are a mess, and I’m fully convinced that this way of approaching the political fight is one of the main reasons that’s true.

I guess that seeing how that worked was what has kept me from joining a party and working inside it. I love politics, and I want to contribute, but… Being smart.
If political involvement will mean being told who to idolize and who to demonize, then I’m better off walking my own path, even if alone.

What do you think? Is politics all about the ideas, or all about the face who’s representing it? Why?

Thanks for reading my mess,
-Mila.

An apology, and…

I have been absent for about a month now, and I wanted to apologize. Writing is something I just can’t force, and lately, I haven’t been really up for it.
I’ll try to have more of a schedule. Maybe mark a day a week when I’ll surely upload at least something, so this doesn’t happen again… I dont know yet.

Here’s today’s topic, though: youth’s vote in Argentina.

 

As you may not know, political rights in my country apply only to citizens, as it does in most parts of the world. This means that a person is only able to present him/herself for a public charge, or to vote, when he/she becomes a citizen. In Argentina’s case, when turning 18 years old. Here, voting is obligatory as estipulated in our Constitution.

In the last days, though, a specific subjtect has been very discussed over all kinds of media, and also between groups of people. Two senators from the actual government’s party have recently presented a law-in-the-making to allow teenagers to have the option to vote when they turn 16 years old. Not full political rights, then, but the chance to vote as an option, until they turn 18, when it becomes obligatory.
This has caused a pretty interesting reaction in the country. And I love interesting reactions.

The most repeated argument against it, is that ‘there are more important things to discuss other than this’. Of course, the government’s opposition did say the same when the national project for a netbook per student (Conectar Igualdad), the law regulating the taxes on soy beans exportation, and the media’s regulation law were proposed, among with many others. Actually, this is the most commonly used argument against practically anything the government does.
I wonder what are the things they find ‘truly important’ to discuss?

The second most commonly heard, is that ‘kids that age aren’t yet ready to vote. They don’t qualify. Now this, my friends, is a very dangerous concept. To be ‘qualified’ to vote.
You know, when you study my country’s history, there is a very special time that was maker of many brilliant minds: 1880. These people were called ‘the 80’s generation’. Among them were many now procers t the country.
These people had an ideal for that then young Argentina. They looked up to the USA’s political system, and to france’s ideologies and culture -yes, that seems to be a constant for argentinian thinkers and politicians until the WWI.
But, they were such intelligent people, they understood the common man was basically an idiot (in Sherlock’s words: ‘don’t take it the wrong way. Technically everyone is one’). So they wanted to restrinct the posibility to vote to only those who had attended/were attending university.

Do you imagine what it would be like if the only ones who could vote were college students? Exactly, that’s the exact opposite to ‘democracy’.

Democracy is meant to be the representation of the majority, while respecting the many minorities.

So, when these people now say 16-year-olds aren’t good enough to vote, what are they basing their arguments on? Is it based on their intelligence? Because I know many 16yearolds that are largely smarter than most adults (heck, I know many 12-year-olds smarter than them). Is it about their naivete? Then, is there a way to ‘calculate’ one’s naivete? A naive adult isn’t allowed to vote either?
Is it about life experience? Well, I’m 18, allowed to vote, and don’t really differ from a 16-year-old’s expertise in life, honestly.

Some senator has been repeating in front of every journalist she can find that ‘her biggest fear is that these kids are in any way manipulated by political parties’. Oh, now there we’re getting somewhere.

Remember that post about that 0800-something meant for kids and families to denounce any ‘political activity’ in schools?

Can you see the patron? Because I can. FEAR.

In the late years, the youth from this country has managed to become another political factor here. We ARE a political group, we stand for what we think is right, we manifest for it and against what we think isn’t, and we influence the course of decitions. We have managed to achieve this so-called power thanks to the effort of many more before us.
The only thing that was keeping us from being truly desicive in the political aspect of the country, was the fact that most of us couldn’t vote. Now this law is making that possible. This law will allow us to claim our rightfull place in the table where the country’s decitions are actually made.

On to the agreeing part of the discussion, we have sayings like ‘this is a great way to get teenagers interested in politics from their early ages’. Well, be carefull with that. I believe politics are a way to open one’s mind, and to know more about the world, to take a step forward for your ideals. But, at the same time, we can’t deny that politics has always been the highway for the economical interests to move their wealth. This is a double-edged sword, that can only be responsably wielded if this law comes along with more and better education on this field, concientization.

Also, let’s not forget that the present government has a lot of the youth’s support, so this also responds to THEIR interests.

People are still people.

Anyways, is with hard discussion like these that the politicians’ and media people’s true way of thinking come out, which is always fun to watch.

How does voting work in your countries? What do you think about this law?

Thanks for reading.

-Mila.