The Dark Fairy might be whining a fair deal about the concept of democracy and the leadership of this country, but at least she can do so without being intimidated or suffering other forms of state terror. In many countries citizens don’t have this freedom and for many nations on this rock called earth this phenomenon is relatively new. Democracy including one’s right to whine isn’t a concept that seems particularly hard to sell. Or is it?
In the UK and many other countries a substantial portion of the electorate are not too bothered to exercise their democratic right to vote. Why bother? Politicians are corrupted, two-faced scumbags who promise you the moon prior to the engagement and after the wedding they have forgotten about the sickness-and-health bit and the moon? Did you really think I would get you the moon? Mwahahaha! (condescending laugh). As the alternative is not too funky the choice of democracy even if it is a lying, deceptive bastard is most definitely the lesser evil. But why are politicians not better sales people? Why don’t they sell me the concept they believe in so much they decided to make a career out of it, but refuse to sell their dream to me? And how does one sell democracy? I’m posing this question after seeing the excellent Chilean film No (say it the Castilian way) starring Mexican hotness Gael Garcia Bernal. The excellence is of the film is not necessarily determined by his hotness though.
The film deals with the 1988 referendum in Chili on whether General Pinochet, who seized power in a coup in 1973 aided by the CIA disposing the democratically elected President Allende and establishing a dictatorship, should stay in power for another 8 years or if he is to be ousted and replaced by a democratic system. The referendum was proposed as a smokescreen to deflect international pressure and not as a genuine desire for a democratic process. The No camp was aware of this, but wanted to use this rare opportunity to raise awareness of the stories of disappearances, tortures, murders, intimidation, and the ten thousands who were forced into exile.
René Saavedra, a successful ad man, played by Bernal is tempted by an old friend and member of the opposition to get involved in the no campaign and produce ads that are to fill the airwaves every day for 15 minutes for a period of 27 days. René uses his slick yet effective ad tricks to sell a political idea: Change from the Pinochet regime and democracy as a new model, which brings hope and happiness. The regime used all its dirty tricks of intimidation and scaremongering on both the public as well as those involved in the no campaign. A message of positivity and a catchy jingle I have been humming for the rest of the day sold the message. The No camp won and Pinochet was ousted. He died in 2006 and although he had taken responsibility for any human rights violations he never stood trial.
If politics is framed as more than politics but as a dream of a brighter future like democracy instead dictatorship or a black president who tells the young, the non-white and everyone else who is feeling the vibe that ‘yes we can’ then the electorate might take the bait. A tantalising message, a well-oiled campaign, that looks and feels good, hopes for a brighter future; yes we want! We want a piece of that lush democratic pie. But when politicians don’t really bother, the more removed the citizen will feel from the political establishment, the more politicians wonder why the electorate don’t dig their (non-)actions. The more unimaginative the ways of communication become the less involved the citizen will be and downwards goes the spiral. Although politics is showbiz for the less glamorous and a fabulous soap for geeks like me, I do get tired of the whining. Sell me a dream just like ad people. It might not be real, but at least it looks nice, something that can’t be said of the state of politics today. So the whining continues.