Friday, December 23, 2016

Is it possible to be politically independent in today's world?

The current political environment in most of the countries is very polarized. I can speak about the USA and India as I follow political scenarios in these two countries more than any other country in the world. Both these countries are vibrant democracies, but the current political atmosphere is so charged and polarized it is almost impossible to remain an independent and try to have a balanced and rational political discussion with any political party or ideology supporter. Most supporters of any party or leader are so passionate and blindly in love with their leader that they are not willing to hear anything even remotely against their leader. These people are very eager to brand their opponents anti-nationals, communal, secular (term secular used in a derogatory way), racist, islamophobic, misogynist, or by any other tag which they can think.  Because of these two things have happened, political discussions have become either like fist fights, where two parties fight against each other blow by blow without having any fruitful exchange of thoughts or it has become an almost devotee like the singing of praise of their demigod leader, where every good thing happening around is attributed to some action taken by that leader.

Politically independent people, who can throw light on both sides of the issue, or can debate over the good and bad aspects of the same policy, political party or a leader has disappeared from these discussions. I understand why they don't want to participate in any such political arguments. But, these debates are so predictable and boring because of an absence of any sane voice among all political devotees. Such devotees are required, there is no doubt that all political leaders and parties survive and thrive due to the presence of such devoted supporters, but the presence of such supporters only make that party gain or lose elections, it doesn't help in moving political discourse any forward. In such a politically charged atmosphere, very often there is a possibility of political deadlock, where both sides try to block even good policies from each other just to display their political muscle power. The interest of the country or its people takes a back seat and that leader's ego or interest of that party's  core voters becomes a most prominent factor. These things used to happen in past also, but now it is happening even after an increase in the education level of people and increase in accessibility of information due to the rapid spread of internet related technology (cell phone, computers).

I am a politically independent person, I don't support a single political party of a leader. In an election, of course, I have to choose one from the list, and I make my decision based on the important issues of that time and solutions presented by different parties, but at the same time, I know the weaknesses and drawbacks of my choice. I am willing to accept that the party for which I voted might have some terrible policies about certain economic and social issues, but in an election, you can vote only for one party and not voting (if I am eligible) is not an option for me. If the party I voted wins the election, then I should be ready to oppose any policy they try to implement which was either not on their agenda or which is obviously harmful to a certain section of society. I am not obliged to support whatever they do, just because I voted for him. This is how I deal with the politics, I don't think political parties would like to have voters like me, but this is how I protect my political independence. I am not bound by their core ideologies or their leader's demigod like status. Current politics has become so personality centric that it has become like a war between two cults.

Whenever I discuss politics in any group, I can see the desperation of people do defend their choices at any cost and their frustration when someone exposes weaknesses of their side or starts asking some uncomfortable questions and I can ask many such questions. I am a republican sympathizer in a democrat group and vice versa, I play a similar role in India also among BJP or Congress supporters. The politics is supposed to be there for the benefit of people, it was supposed to create healthy debate and discussion where something better for nation comes out from such debates. It was not supposed to create a war like situation within a country or a deadlock where the nation is stuck in policy paralysis, where nothing moves forward except vicious verbal attacks on each other. None of these things are healthy for any nation. Political differences and strong opposition should exist and no government should get an absolute right to do whatever they want. Every democratic country needs to have some checks and balances to curtail the absolute power. The presence of single ideology is dangerous no matter how good or rational that ideology sounds. I hope people understand the value and importance of dissent. I hope they understand that expressing dissent against the government doesn't mean that they are aginst the country. If a country needs to progress all of its people need to contribute, political opponents have ideological or policy based differences they are not enemies of each other, their existence should not be mutually exclusive. Politics needs healthy and efficient dialogue not monotonous, and vitriolic monologs.

I cherish my political independence and I am really proud of it. It is becoming a very rare trait day by day. I hope people understand the importance of constructive criticism and healthy dialog, until that this drama will continue and people like me won't find any difference between some news channels and channels who telecast dramatic soap operas. Protect you political independence if you can, and even if you become a supporter of some political party become a sensible supporter, not a blind devotee.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing.]

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