An Open Letter to Daphne Caruana Galizia (2000 words for your 2000 today)
(available for a limited period on http://www.daphnecaruanagalizia.com – the woman not the letter)
Good morning Daphne,
I’ve just read your last Sunday article before the election (Be Vigilant). I am sure you’ve saved the best for last- on Thursday – when nobody can answer any arguments built on half truths and false premises. Don’t worry there is nothing wrong in that, others have done that before you – even the great EFA left it until the last minute to promote The Big Lie that started to push away hundreds of queen-bees to the hazy realm of the independent voters. We have got used to this, as we have got used to the rule that a partisan supporter can only face you with condescension, ridicule and truth-twisting.
You needed a thread for your narrative to work today.You needed a common theme that could bunch all your ideas together and avoid having to break your article into those hideous – asterix-separated – strings of thoughts that are not as neat as the full flow of ideas in one solid piece. And you chose Vigilance. “Be Vigilant” you told the electors – and I find it an infinitesimally interesting choice of words. You who claim to know how to read words and the message they pass along so well might have been a bit more careful. Hermeneutically speaking I could have just stopped at the title and not bothered to read on. They captured the essence so well and yet I am sure that they will not be serving their master in the manner she intended.
“Be Vigilant”. It’s a wartime message. It reminds the readers of the wartime posters – keep mum because the enemy might be listening. It’s a slogan worthy of the DC propaganda against the spectre of baby-eating communists. It’s MacCarthyism all over again – beware of the reds hiding under your bed. “Be Vigilant” – you are being asked to become an invigilator – your friendly Political Neighbourhood Watch. Weed out the spineless weaklings who are getting tangled in their thinking. A good verbal beating by the Daphneburo will get them back in line and show them how to stop routing for the dysfunctional alternative.
“Be Vigilant”, and in your usual style that I am sure will not be so pronounced on your new blog-non-blog you dish out the Invigilators’ Welcome pack – it’s full of I.D. Kits of “How to tell the dithering fool”, “Ten Signs to Identify a Computer Geek”, “The Watermelons – or a study on Reds disguised as TreeHuggers” and so on and so forth. (As for the blog-non-blog – welcome to the fold, I think it is a blog notwithstanding your “Ceci n’est pas un blog” song and dance). It’s indoctrination of a disguised kind, because what you fail to notice at the end is that notwithstanding all your claims of intelligent, swift decision making you fail to engage on the issues that are brought up. You prefer instead to return to the old battleground – the dirty ministers hiding in Sant’s closet and the Old Bad Labour. Like the PN you have come to this election with one main slogan – “Keep Sant Out”. Now you send out the invigilators with the same message – anybody who is not voting PN is dithering and risks putting Alfred in government.
What you neglect to tell the readers Daphne is that some people (not all – my blog attracts all kinds of people because they feel comfortable discussing within its forum – even when I am forced to resume moderation thanks to the calming presence of MLPN interlocutors) have long been aware of the PN vs Sant option. Some, like myself would prefer PN to the Sant option if that is the only issue at the moment. Only it is not. The PN campaign would like to think it is. They have invested all their energy in that simple formula. And that is their main weakness. They have not been prepared to engage on other issues – so every other issue has to be translated and twisted forcefully into the only weapon in their arsenal.
Which brings us back to BE VIGILANT. It is symptomatic of this campaign. I do not deny that you could have reached your decision quickly and without hesitation when you only considered the Gonzi vs Sant option. I would have done the same. And I told you so. It does not take a Harvard Ph.D. to reach the conclusion when you look at the two manifestos with the G vs S clash in mind.
Then there’s the next step. The Alternattiva monster. The Greens have always been an easy target for PN naysayers. They have been called treehuggers, eccentrics and NIMBY pressure-groups over just the last 15 years of PN government when AD were always ridiculed for their rebel-style antics. Those same 15 years were the 15 years in which the environmental deficit was left to grow – only to have a promise that it will be solved – in 2008. But that is not my battle to win… nope Daphne, AD is AD’s battle. I am not here to represent AD. They happen to be a vehicle for a different vote – NOT A PROTEST VOTE -mark my words… not a protest vote. They are the irritant in the PN campaign of “Keep Sant Out” which only works if all the alternatives are null. Surely AD’s position in the polls had something to do with the harshening of the PN diatribes against the party culminating in the slogan “Vote Harry, Get Sant”. AD had to be neutralised. Worse than that it had to morph into the enemy and so be it… we get your coup de grace … MLPAD.
Again the hermeneutics of it all is lost on Daphne the Communicator. When a voter is determined to exercise his choice on the basis of a reasoned decision and then he finds a party telling him that his decision is not really what he thinks it is but really a Labour vote… then he tends to get pissed off. Really pissed of. Not the petulant Girl’s Private School pissed off. It’s the intelligent, reasonable woman who is being told that she has no brain cells, and in a grand tour of non-sequiturs we get the proto-psychological assessment of no style, no marriage ring, too many chips, pratty, ignorant, downright stupid. It doesn’t stop there… the Big Invigilator on the Low Hobby Horse (not a high horse when she speaks) tells him/her that by continuing to think different they are setting themselves up as “hate objects”. It is only those who think in the same way as yourself who are intelligent – witness your last comment about Cora and Super-Fausto.
But let’s get back to these petulant voters. I cannot speak for them all. Surely I do not speak for the grudge-bearers and Labourites or Alternattivisti whenever I write. I speak for myself and slowly, the more I write the more I find that we are a few… almost too few to mention… so we may be wrong. You want names for the Invigilators? Here… I see Justin BB, I see David Friggieri , I see Mark Vella (once he shed his let’s try Sant obsession), and I see Raphael (when he sheds his obsession he has with you). I’m sure they won’t sue me for the preposterous assertion that we might have a common ground to think from that is not partisan.
In this common line the agenda is not a coalition. It is not a Green Party or whatever in Parliament. See it this way it is a Constitutional Movement that goes beyond party snipes, jibes and dissentions. Frankly if I were to take your tack I would say it is an over intelligent conversation that is beyond your competence, but I won’t: I do not like that kind of comment. Our idea falls in the field of political philosophy and constitutional theory, far from the ramparts of partisan trench warfare. You’ll be tempted to say it is pie-in-the-sky and abstract and intellectual (or wankellectual) and impractical. You’d be right… from the layman’s point of view viz-a-vis “complicated legal reasonings”, but you’d be oh so wrong about the implications of it’s practicality.
You see Daphne, Constitutional Law and Constitutional debate is at the root of modern democracy. It is all about the translation of the will of the sovereign people. It assumes that the basic framework is approved by a constitutional convention and then the citizens will vote themselves a government to manage in an accountable manner within that constitutional framework. If the framework shows its faults then you need a constitutional moment to change it – witness the aftermath of the 1981 anomalous election result. What this Constitutional Movement is clamouring for is that another Constitutional Moment has come. In 1981 the majority vote was not respected because the rules warranted otherwise. Today we have an implicit admission that a voter’s decision can be WASTED. They are not my words. They are the words of people like you. Now either you are LYING (an ugly word normally used in partisan politics) and the vote is not really WASTED or you are right and that means that a voter’s right to choose is no longer there. I have told you that I agree that you are not lying. The current rules allow a vote to be wasted. The MLPN are aware of this anomaly and have chosen not to take any action about it.
Therein lies the catch-22. Because of their decision not to fix the Wasted Vote issue the MLPN have put a certain class of voter in a right fix (excuse the pun). There is an evident lack of will to reopen the constitutional debate. As far as MLPN are concerned Wasted Votes are here to stay. In total defiance of the will of admittedly a minority of voters (and the well-being and interest of the whole body politic) with a constitutional conscience the PN has gone a step further. It has turned the Wasted Vote into a campaign weapon. This is effectively a hijack of a vote no matter how Super-Fausto puts it. The moment the Wasted Vote Campaign began there was an admission of a fault in the system, and an unashamed use of it to the PN’s favour. That does not help the PN. No amount of vigilance,name calling and labelling will fix this fraudulent campaign.
The Wasted Vote Campaign is based on real facts. Sadly it is the real facts that need changing. A modern democracy does not accept a situation wherein votes can be wasted. Every citizen’s vote is precious. That is why it takes a lot of thinking, weighing and deliberating when there is a difficult choice. That is even more why in a Sant vs Gonzi battle the answer is normally a no-brainer. It does not take intelligence or 20 years of column writing to notice that. Even the most insecure fashionista should be able to tell who to vote for. Nevertheless voting remains the basic citizen’s right…. anything that diminishes the power of this right is not healthy for the democracy. The repercussions are much wider if you manage to think beyond the tip of your nose. Erosion of accountability, erosion of responsibility are just the beginnings of a downhill trip where democracy is the ultimate victim. Seen in this perspective voting for a PN government that refuses to do anything about the Democratic Deficit is also biting your nose to spite your face. And yes, we have Sant to thank for that.
So I will leave you and your invigilators to do your bullying work. Make sure that you poke the snarly spineless ditherers from every corner, leave no stone unturned. Be vigilant. Don’t forget though that your punctillious vigilance this side of the elections is causing a rapid depreciation of the citizen’s vote once we get to the other side. If a democracy is not about respecting every citizen’s will then just tell us that it is no longer a Republic but a partitocracy… and I will gladly subscribe to your idea of living comfortably far off in another country.
The Constitutional Movement is still not a physical reality but it is getting closer to being one with every taunt and insult that is traded. Once again we have to do without the mass of the so-called progressives still following the pied Piper of false socialism. The constitutionalists are all about sovereignty of the people. We do not need anyone to be vigilant for us…. sadly we are babysitting the shortsighted voters like you (when it comes to the constitutional debate and not the easy Sant vs Gonzi choice) and will continue being the warning voices about the perils of the future long after you’ve dropped the name calling and labelling and returned to the normal routine… until five years later you will give us another reason why we can sacrifice our right to choose on the higher altar of the vigilant Nazzjonalisti.
Good luck with your blog…
Jacques Rene Zammit