Politicians, voters and the leaders we deserve

Politicians and leaders cop the blame all the time.

That much is undeniable. In most cases justifiable, and for good reason. They hold positions that wield tremendous power and responsibility, which means the decisions they make have far reaching consequences.

So when things go south, it is natural for people to point the finger at them, just as they would get all the praise when things go well. Which happens all the time. Whether it’s the government, church, village or individual families, the buck always stops with the leaders.

This of course is not confined to Samoa. Everywhere else in the world we look today, people are pointing fingers at politicians and leaders. That’s why Trump, Xi Jingpin, Kim Jong Un, Vladimir Putin, Boris Johnson or any other prominent world leader you can think of dominate the world news. The same goes for this part of the world.

The higher the profile and the portfolio they hold the more blame they get. You can say that it comes with the territory, right? After all, doesn’t tremendous power come with even more tremendous responsibility? It’s the nature of the beast.

But are they completely to blame for how our world has turned out today? Now don’t rush in answering that. Think deeply about it.

In the meantime, let’s bring it closer to home and think about Samoa for a minute. While we have come so far as a country and there is much to celebrate, the reality is that everywhere you look today, there are problems staring us smack in the face.

Take for instance the increasing crime rate, hardship, poverty, unemployment, domestic violence, vendors, corruption, the menacing cost of living and much, much more. You see it everywhere. Dishonesty has especially become the new normal. People lie about things they don’t need to lie about.

Some are stealing things inside church buildings, yes it’s happening in Samoa. And even taxi drivers are harassing poor women and robbing tourists with exorbitant fees. It’s crazy but this is the world we live in today. It’s a mad concoction of bizarre, nasty and downright ridiculous.

How did we arrive where we are today? Did we miss something? Where did we go wrong?

Which brings us back to the question we asked earlier; are politicians and leaders completely to blame? Is it totally their fault that we are seeing all these problems?

Looking at the political landscape of this nation, are the leaders to blame for the fact Samoa has become a one party state where the Government is now in a position to do whatever, whenever? Don’t you think it is dangerous to have so much power concentrated in the hands of a party for so long? And whose fault is that?

These are critical questions. We need to ask them today. We say this because we cannot deny that there is a climate of fear hovering above this country. We profess that we are a free country but people are talking in whispers. Paranoia is everywhere we look.

Are leaders, especially political leaders, completely to blame?

If the opinion of this writer were sought, I would have to say that politicians and leaders are accountable and responsible to a certain extent. They are the architectures of the systems and laws we have, the same systems and laws responsible for the current state of affairs, good and bad.

But they are not the only ones responsible.

The citizenship cannot escape blame. Ladies and gentlemen, those political leaders did not appoint themselves to those positions of power. We live in a democratic country where the power to put those people there belongs to the voters.

In other words, the leaders we have today were placed there by you and me. Which means we are equally responsible for what is happening today.

Why are we talking about this today?

Well earlier this week, Prime Minister Tuilaepa told a little story during the launch of new political party. He spoke about how Samoan orators, and Samoans in general, have become experts at politics, especially the art of fooling candidates.  For instance, in the lead up to any election, Tuilaepa said his office is filled with orators and chiefs who visit to introduce a new candidate.

“When they come to my office, they will say that they absolutely sure that this is the person chosen by God to be their new Member of Parliament,” Tuilaepa said.

“A few weeks later, the same orators and chiefs will turn up with another candidate saying the same thing. They will come again in another few weeks with another different candidate.”

Tuilaepa’s little story was met by laughter from the audience of course.

But this story perfectly illustrates the point that as voters, we are equally to blame for the bad politicians we get. That’s because most of the time, greedy voters get greedy politicians.

Which is precisely what we are seeing today. The point is that while the politicians are inevitably blamed for anything and everything, each and every one of us, as voters, must examine ourselves and check our motives. What we sow is what we reap.

On this Sunday, think about the words of Joseph De Maistre, who said: "In a democracy, the people end up with the government and leaders they deserve."

Have a restful Sunday Samoa, God bless!

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