By Brian Sedze
I have written a lot of words about our state of political and economic affairs, but one question keeps coming up, the hardest one to answer-what do we do? In the new energized drive to register to vote I think democracy in abundance require more than registering but active participation in whatever political cause we believe in.
I am certainly no authority in such matters, and everyone’s situation is different, but I do think there are some basic things that can be done, things that everyone has an opportunity to do, and can start doing them tomorrow.
-Start by knowing yourself. The thine own heart be true. It is critically important that you know what your principles are, what you believe and how you came to believe it. Remember, reason and logic are our best allies, because you will be challenged in many ways. Make a choice of your political home based on principles, logic and reason because it’s your ammunition to attack and defend positions. Anything outside principle is mercenary so it’s never on the buffet of democracy.
-Your political positions are not universally shared. It’s not true that what you believe in, in terms of political outcome, is shared by everyone. In fact celebrate diversity and invest your energy to convince the opposite side that your position will result in a greater and better Zimbabwe. Slogans and hero worshipping is force feeding the masses crap without ideology or deliverables.
-Stay informed. Gather as much credible information as possible from as many sources as is possible. Information is power, and power is confidence, something you will need when you are challenged of your positions. Most of our interactions will be necessarily brief “circling back” and will not win friends and influence people
-Argue honestly and well. Stay calm and rational in the face of the storm and remember you can never reason someone out of position they did not reason themselves into in the first place. A well-constructed, fact based argument is a persuasive argument and if does not persuade, you will walk away knowing you did everything you could.
-Spread the word. It is important to take a strong stance on your political party beliefs. Remember diversity is also key. It’s not always that political desired outcomes should be won by open evangelism and mass action. It’s important to write letters to the newspapers have strong opinion on social media and engage people in discussion in all places opportunities present. If you are urban spread the word, and a true word, to family in rural. If you are rural spread the truths to urbanites.
Patience is required and is definitely a virtue. Understand that what we face is a daunting challenge. Andrew Breitbart said politics is a derivative of culture, so the culture must change if we expect politics to change. If your party concentrate on positions, manifestos and policy without being a culture change agent just know you have to gird your loins for the long haul.
-Focus on the basics. Get involved at whatever level you believe your voice can be heard. There are a lot of levels that can benefit from your presence and voice. Your party leaders will not do it without your active participation. Without being involved you have abdicated the struggle.
-Be present. Volunteer and show support. Invest in the struggle you believe in through resources, financial and otherwise. You tend to be more attached to causes or political parties were your resources are at stake without your desired outcome. You tend to demand accountability from leaders if you have invested something. Influence the party by what you do more than what you say. Slogans without investments are not the way of democracy.
-Hold your current representatives accountable. They represent you, and you have a right to expect that they deliver on their commitments to you and function according to party principles. Let them deliver especially if they knew the conditions they were to operate under. If it’s your ruling party just know opposition has nothing to do with failure to deliver beyond the York of economic sanctions.
-Your leaders are not a new God. Leaders are important and should be supported in word and indeed. They remain leaders but not you’re entire belief system and certainly not your party. If you truly want a servant leader invest your energy in ensuring the right McKinney 7s are in place. In addition make it your ambition to diminish the value of them ahead of the 7s.
Dealing with our current representatives is one that requires more structure and influence. First in my view I would want you to reflect on Thomas Jefferson letter to Samuel Kercheval that “a departure from principle in one instance becomes precedent for a second; that second for a third; and so on, till the bulk of the society is reduced to mere automatons of misery, and to have no sensibilities left for sinning and suffering”. So what you must do is to note and write to leadership these diversions of principle. Inform others so the representative won’t make it to the ballot in future
I leave it to you that democracy can only be delivered in abundance by your action and quote this from Fellowship of the ring
“I wish it need not have happened in our times” said Frodo
“So do I” said Gandalf, “so do all who live to see such times? But that is not for them to decide .All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us”
Brian Sedze is a Strategy Consultant and Acting President of Free Enterprise Initiative, an advocacy in public policy and less government. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org