Kuwait Elections – Pessimism Versus Optimism
Wherever you look or listen, you only see or hear pessimistic comments about the Kuwaiti political condition, which in turn is, erroneously, used to explain the economic slowdown in the country. You hear this from intellectuals and professionals, as well as from the masses, who flood the social media with rumors, speculations, wrong information and, occasionally, half-truths that are explained to suit the author.
Who is responsible for all this pessimism? No doubt, the Government is to blame the most of it. It has failed to provide a continuous stream of timely information regarding critical and non-critical events, as well as explanations for its actions. The Kuwaiti press is also to blame for failing to exert a greater effort to search for relevant information and analyze it wisely, rather than smugly satisfy itself with thunderous headlines, that can be harmful, but increase newspaper sales.
Pessimism and optimism are relative and depend on a person’s condition, state of mind, knowledge and experience. Therefore, while a pessimist may consider a glass half empty, an optimist would see it as half full, even though it is the same glass with the same amount of water!
On this basis, a pessimist is likely to only see the dark side of everything, and because he doesn’t have answers nor solutions, he becomes frustrated and negative. It is not disgraceful not to have a solution, the problem may simply be beyond some people’s area of knowledge, specialization or expertise. However, it is wrong to lash out with abusive criticism, hyper-exaggeration of coming doom, or constant comparison with the past.
a) We all know that abusive criticism only begets a similar response or even worse, and consequently the issue is lost and trampled upon in futile arguments and harmful head butting. If you seek reform, not clashes, then avoid abusive criticism. It would be a lot more productive to listen to wise folk and to the specialists, and then adopt their views and recommendations – subject they are realistic and practical.
b) As for hyper-exaggeration, especially without proof, is harmful to everyone. It terrifies and panics the masses and pushes them to act rashly, which only distances them from their original objective and worsens their condition. It also, confuses the planning and execution of, even the moderate, reforms, and is may delay or cancel them. Exaggerated doom is not applicable to a country such as Kuwait, which has historically proven its caring for and support of its citizens, and is not likely to abandon them in times of duress.
c) Lastly, the constant comparison with the past may create an illusion for the young generation, that the past was Plato’s “Utopia”, and has since degenerated. The past’s small population size, its demographics, the prevailing educational and cultural level, the paucity of sources of income, as well as the weak memories of those remembering, do not, in any way, indicate the existence of better conditions in the past. Let us concentrate on the present, and tackle the present hurdles. The past is beautiful in a folkloric way, but is not suitable for the twenty first century.
On the opposite side, an optimist views Kuwait as advanced politically, socially and economically, especially when compared with sixty years ago. He also sees it as advanced in the present when compared to other Arab countries, most Third world countries and beyond. Despite that, an optimist will concur that administrative mistakes have occurred, but he believes that they can be rectified through constructive criticism and through the help of wise people. He also admits that there have been some reverses in freedoms, cultural development, and the economy, but still believes that Kuwait remains relatively ahead, and readjustments have to be made to correct the reversals. An optimist does not surrender, nor does he hide in a cocoon, but steps up his efforts to push the society forward.
How Do We Deal with the Upcoming Elections?
In view of the eminent parliamentary elections, many pessimists fear the election of unsuitable MP’s. But, elections reflect the voice of the people, and regardless of its wisdom or awareness, the voice of the people has to be respected and accepted. However, this does not mean surrendering to it. There are ways to mitigate the potential harm emanating from such decisions. The following are some:
FIRST: Before The Election:
1) Prepare and widely publicize the following list positive attributes of the ideal Member of Parliament (MP):
a) He is firmly anti-Corruption, and has a clean reputation and track record.
b) His personal business interests do not impact his decisions as an MP. His record clearly indicates his ability to manage conflict of interest to favor public benefit. In all events, he will be closely monitored.
c) Believes in a personal and public freedoms, without exceptions.
d) Understands economics beyond mere trading, real estate or speculation. He is unlikely to be blinded by dazzling headlines.
e) Believes in the need to curtail rampant Government spending, subject that it does not destroy the economy or damage lower income families.
f) Believes in the need to carefully study laws before promulgating them. Especially those that are complex or deceptive.
g) Is against rendering MP intervention for minor or wasteful services to citizens, and restricts himself to interventions where gross unfairness and injustice has occurred.
h) Truly believes in equality and fairness in society, regardless of ethnicity, religion, sect, family or social affiliations.
i) Understands International relations and is willing to listen to opposing views before making his decisions.
j) Is willing to reveal his financial status prior to election.
2) Research each candidate who previously was an MP to identify his voting record in so far as the attributes mentioned above. It is necessary to face him with this record and hear his explanations and justifications – as well as take promises from him in the event he is elected.
3) Compare each New candidate with the “attributes” listed above, by researching him as well as directly questioning him about his views.
SECOND: After the Election:
1) Continuously monitor the members’ voting actions and compare them with what they promised. Publish the results in a monthly bulletin which will become a permanent record, that supports good MP’s and punishes those who renege on their promises, in the next elections.
2) Invite MP’s to attend public and private lectures, seminars and discussions about important issues that concern the country.
3) Form delegations made up of knowledgeable people to visit MP’s to exchange views and convince them to accept useful recommendations, or to refrain from going ahead with harmful votes or laws.
Of course all the above is a lot of work for one person. It would be much more effective if it is organized under the umbrella of a “Civil Society” institution and supported by vibrant publicity. This is a unique opportunity for the pessimists and the optimists to unite to form a politically, ethnic and religiously neutral and unbiased group whose role would be to monitor the selection, and thereafter the actions of the MP’s. Such an endeavor would be many times better than sitting grumbling and complaining. Let us all become positive… maybe we will also become Optimistic.