Are We Choosing the Right Leaders?
Why is it so easy for clearly unqualified persons to raise themselves to such powerful positions, but so difficult for the public to protect their own country by removing infectious persons from government?
In our day to day lives we face many choices, some of them easy and some not so easy. In fact, its the options we are given and the decisions we make which makes us human. From a young age we are given options to choose from and we are conditioned to accept these options as we ultimately choose one of them. It is no surprise then that we are content with the list of leaders to choose from when elections are taking place.
Why do we only see the faults in our choices after the leaders are in power?
When presidents are elected the masses cheer, they stand inline, hoping for a glimpse or a handshake as the attention reduces the president to the level of celebrity. With the advancement of media and coverage of political agendas it has become very easy for candidates to spread their agendas to the masses. As with any advancement, there are its advantages and disadvantages. Although the road to being elected a leader, or president, has always revolved around obtaining as many followers as possible, the process has changed drastically since the invention of the very handy television. However, with candidates and presidents being shown in the same light as actors, singers and other celebrities they are consequently perceived as celebrities themselves. For the candidate this is a very useful side-effect and many exploit this.
These celebrities enjoy their fame and set themselves apart from the rest of the world and in so have elevated themselves to an almost “godlike” status. There are so many “fans” who swoon when they see their idols and I can only describe it as worshipping. Furthermore, these celebrities enjoy the perks of the trade by receiving special treatment when convicted of a crime. It is therefore no wonder that when leaders are charged with crimes they receive special treatment. How are the public supposed to make an educated and well-informed decision when electing a leader when they cannot discern between a celebrity and a possible leader of a country?
We cry, “off with his head!” when these elected leaders do not follow through just like a child who cries to their mother when they fell off the wall they weren’t supposed to climb on. It is only natural then that the wrong persons are elected into power and no wonder that we find fault with them when we realise these “miracle-workers” are merely people with their own personal agenda.
The United States of America is perhaps suffering the worst case of celebrity leadership as they struggle to keep the world’s respect with business mogul and celebrity, Donald Trump, as their president. The rest of the world was shocked when it was announced that he won the election, but we were not shocked to see how his approval rating had dropped within weeks of moving into the oval office.
How do we deal with corrupt and unwanted leaders?
In my home country of South Africa, it has become the norm the associate our government with corruption. People are no longer shocked to hear on the 5 o’clock news that a person in a leadership position had been found guilty of corruption. And worse, they are no longer shocked to learn that those persons will suffer no accountability.
Our own president, Mr Jacob Zuma, was found guilty by the Constitutional Court of violating our constitution as he failed to repay the government the money he spent upgrading his home in his home town, Nkandla. But I guess we can’t blame him for doing that as he was already facing corruption and racketeering charges shortly before being elected as president. In fact, he was charged with rape in the Johannesburg High Court on 2 December 2005 but found not guilty. When he admitted to having consensual unprotected sex with his HIV positive accuser, he claimed to have taken a shower afterwards to reduce his chances of contracting the decease. This was the person elected to set an example and lead our very fragile country.
Furthermore, he faced 7 votes of no-confidence by the parliament as it was found that his actions negatively impacted our country and its economy. The latest effort in the quest to remove Zuma from his throne-like seat of power has been to grant MPs the right of a secret ballot vote. This is necessary as it is believed that the members are placed in a compromising position if openly opposing him. Is this the kind of leadership our country needs? I guess he succeeded in setting an example to the rest of us; the example of what NOT to do, unless you want to rule this country of course.
“Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.”
This is one of the most notable speeches made by any president and of course came from the great Abe Lincoln himself. During Zuma’s campaign and rise to power he was seen as one of the people because of his charisma, poor roots and value of his Zulu traditions. Whereas Trump was never “one of the people” being a celebrity, Zuma was seen as the saviour of the poor because of his poor upbringing.
The infection spreads:
Although leaders such as these have and will cause a lot of damage to their respective countries, we have to consider what they are doing to the free world. Democratic governing systems were put in place to ensure free and fair treatment of all citizens, but leaders who exploit their seats of power are infecting the system. They are the democratic cancer that eats from the inside out. We will all soon reach a point of no return as, someday, we will elect someone who refuses to step down after their term is done.