MICHAEL OCHULA: Politicians turning to politics of greed, spreading fear – The Star, Kenya

•The vast vulnerable citizens are scared out of their wits by politicians who are quite prepared to sway the masses to their voting side.
•Kenyans are of moderate decency but we seem to have much time for people who shove ‘wrong goodies’ down our throats. 
Politics is an art just like music. And as politicians rely on music to sell their agenda, we, the electorates, are the instruments, played by them.
Some politicians are crude exponents, performing with the delicacy of a violinist wielding a mallet. Others, the true tribal kingpins, draw from us the sweet chords of electoral success by playing on tribal melodies that resonate in the deepest chambers of the electorate’s heart. Two themes, in particular, are the masters’ recurring favourites: greed and fear.
We have recently witnessed leading political contenders unleash these themes with equal vigour. Without missing a beat, politicians unleash the dread demon of fear, they improvise variations on the same theme-playing on risks to economic development agenda, national security, corruption, universal healthcare, unemployment and quality education, among other critical issues.
The vast vulnerable citizen and the gullible are scared out of their wits by politicians who are quite prepared to sway the masses to their voting side.
In most cases, the appeal to voters is far less crude than I have suggested. But if you listen carefully, then two factors can be discerned. Politicians frame their campaign messages to fit the character mode of the electorate they seek to persuade. If they believed that the road to the August 2022 general election success is paved with depravity – then that would be the basis of their appeal.
However, experience seems to have taught our politicians to expect something less of us than we might hope for ourselves. The evidence of history is compelling – the lower road of deceit, corruption, unethical conduct and unorthodox campaign tactics offers the most direct route to power.
But success achieved in this manner comes only at a cost: in the moment of our surrender to the siren song of greed and fear, we may despise those who wreck our better selves on the base elements of our character.
We may be tempted to blame the politicians for this state of affairs in the country, but we share responsibility for the character of the political discourse we voted in during the past elections.
Kenyans are of moderate decency but we seem to have much time for people who shove ‘wrong goodies’ down our throats. We still have a real affection for ideas such as that of a ‘fair go’ – even if our commitment to practice is not consistent. We should demand more accountability from our politicians and ourselves.
This is where leadership really counts. Those commanding the political heights affect the tone of our society by their example as individuals and through the style and substance of their politics.
All of this leads me to wonder if, in the months ahead of the general election, the principal players in Kenyan politics might risk taking the higher road by engaging the nobler aspects of the Kenyan character.
Surely there are some things that we might choose to do (individually or collectively) for reasons other than self-interest or fear. This would be a different tune, no doubt a difficult tune to play. But surely, we have politicians gifted and confident enough to master such an art.
Ochula is a communications and governance expert working in Nairobi.
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By Kwetu Buzz

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