Preaching civility in Kenya's political campaigns – The East African

US motivational speaker and author, Dr Ruben West. PHOTO | POOL
With six months to Kenya’s General Election, political manoeuvring in Kenya is getings into top gear. The stage is now set for a do-or-die campaign until August 9.
This is the subject of Ruben West’s book Campaign Civility. The author, a US humanitarian and motivational speaker, extols the virtues of good behaviour by politicians, and why the electorate must vote based on these attributes.
He begins by humanising the oft-demonised politicians thus: “Imagine being a politician who not only has the pressures of everyday life, but the responsibility to ease those same pressures for the people you serve.”
He then invites readers to imagine having a constant barrage of attacks and criticisms on you as a person and your profession. He defines incivility in politics, and how it blocks what he calls ‘’move ahead strategies”.
He speaks of historical hooks, for example when politicians speak of ‘’past betrayals”, and how this leads to politics of pugilism, where even political debates resemble courtroom battles, as uncivil combatants brawl, without ever getting to attack the record or issues — healthcare, roads, education — which is what should be the citizen’s only concern.
“You may fire up your base when you attack your political opponent, say, with shocking allegations,” West writes, “but you also infuriate the base of your opponent.”
The book urges politicians to tell the audience the truth, not just what they want to hear. He uses the example of former US president Barack Obama, who stopped officials from removing hecklers from his political rally, but rather had them listen to his truth which is based on the law.
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By Kwetu Buzz

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