Print Edition - 2016-02-07  |  Free the Words

A web of lies

  • Politicians should be held accountable for the promises they make to the people
- SURENDRA REGMI, Kathmandu

Feb 7, 2016-Talk less, do more. This is a common advice people give one another. But talking more is not bad as long as it makes sense. Well-thought-out speeches can have immense influence on the audience, and great speakers can mesmerise people anywhere. Speeches are indeed key to building relations with the public for political leaders. How well leaders can articulate their views and vision makes a lot of difference in their leadership.

But without a level of trust being established between the speaker and the audience, talking alone cannot convince the crowd. People confer confidence on their leaders based on their visions, policies and plans that are realistic and substantiated by past actions and achievements. Empty promises, pompous plans, rhythmic rhetoric and volleys of unfounded vision will not influence individuals. People in today’s time are interested in substance, not in populist political propaganda. 

The American debate

Political talks and debates are of course an important part of any democratic polity. Take for an example the ongoing presidential election debates in America. Campaigns have started since last year and all presidential candidates are going through several rounds of nationally televised debates and trying hard to prove themselves as the best candidate. Both Republican and Democratic Party candidates are trying to convince voters that they have the best vision, strategy, plans and policy to make the country better. Going by political analysis and opinion polls, Americans are looking for trustworthy and more assertive leadership that is committed to American values and principles.

The current US President Barak Obama was quite popular during his first term that obviously won him the second term in the White House. Obama’s start was very positive, full of hope and international acclaim. He was even awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in the very early period of his presidency but that was, as some critics say, like giving a certificate of excellence to someone before he even attended the exam.

Obama’s second term, however, has not been perceived positively, mainly by the republicans. While there are several domestic problems and 

security issues, America’s international position has also weakened these days. Whether it was a strategic move or a policy failure of the incumbent president, America has forsaken its hold on the world, especially on the Arabian Peninsula. Perhaps the strategy and approach taken by the US President, a Nobel Peace Laureate, was intended to promote peace rather than conflict in the region. However, most Americans seem to have not liked that approach. That is why Obama’s critics call him the weakest president in American history. 

Virtue of honesty 

One thing of course the world can sense from the ongoing presidential campaigns and debates is that the American people are really trying to test their future leaders against some basic moral and professional parameters like trustworthiness, commitment to American values and principles and the ability to protect them at home and abroad. How much the reliability of a leader matters is evident from the way and extent a democratic candidate, Hilary Clinton, is being questioned for her private emails and her role during the Benghazi incident. There was a deadly terrorist attack at the American Embassy in Benghazi, Libya back in 2012, when several servicemen, including the US Ambassador, were killed. Clinton was the Secretary of State at the time. She is being accused by the Republicans and others of lying 

to the American people about the Benghazi incident. She has also gone through several congressional hearings on the same issue. Clinton has also been seriously questioned about her private email server which she used for official communications. Whether there is any truth in these allegations remains to be seen, but the credibility issue has already overshadowed her entire campaign. 

Some Republican candidates are also being questioned for their changing position on many key issues like immigration, healthcare, tax, etc. Though all candidates are highly renowned in their respective fields, they are still being scrutinised. All of them have to demonstrate their competence and confidence to lead the most powerful nation in the world. 

Americans will choose their president as they like, and the world has nothing to worry about. But there are lessons that the world can learn from the ongoing campaign and public debates there. One basic lesson for everyone is that only words cannot impress people anywhere. Talking truth, whatever that may be, is always the key to win the confidence of the people. Being dishonest will ultimately produce bad results. Leaders in Nepal too should realise this. Certain traits and values such as being honest and talking sensible things are important universally. These are the very things missing in Nepali politicians. Political personalities in the country are free to say anything for the sake of talking but they are never held accountable for what they say. Of course having high ambitions, lofty vision and big plans are perfectly fine, but they must be practical as well. But Nepali leaders often talk big things, allure people with high hopes and promises but fail to deliver. Of course, we in the third world countries cannot expect a well informed and able leadership like in the West, but we should at least have a few honest and nationalist leaders who make genuine efforts to help the people and the country.

Regmi has a master’s degree in 

international relations from International University of Japan

Published: 07-02-2016 09:25

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