The late venerable United States Senator Edward Kennedy, whom I had the privilege to work for, was asked 38 years ago a fairly routine question Why he was running for President.
In his response, the already household name from the nearest thing America has had to a royal family gave what someone present described as “a hesitant, rambling and incoherent non-answer [which] seemed to go on forever without arriving anywhere.”
Many people believe this — the incoherent, rambling answer — is why the liberal icon never picked traction with his bid to succeed then President Jimmy Carter, who some thought even a mannequin could beat both in the party primary and later in the general election.
He was nonetheless walloped by some B-movie cowboy actor known as Ronald Reagan.
This question, “why are you running”, has since been a standard question asked of presidential hopefuls and aspirants for other elective offices, with all of them still giving incoherent or nonsensical responses. This is despite rehearsing responses over and over again.
At the core of this question is a quest to understand the depth and conviction of the candidate and even more, their vision.
If one were to ask President Uhuru Kenyatta why he rasn for President in 2002, and if he were to give an honest response, he would have replied, “I don’t know; Moi thought I should.”
He didn’t have to but everyone knew he was going to be trounced by Kibaki as he was, once Raila ‘toshad’ Kibaki; it could have been anyone, anyway, even a mannequin as was the case with Jimmy Carter, because Kenyans had just had enough of then president Daniel arap Moi.
To his credit, Uhuru did not exit the political stage in embarrassment for agreeing to be Moi’s project but he went on to participate in the revamping of our Constitution, working hand-in-hand with none other than Raila, the man he would face in the 2013 elections.
If one were to ask Uhuru why he was running for president in 2012 and the man were to be honest, he would have said “because I simply want to get the ugly monkey off my back aka the ICC.”
That has come to pass and that’s one legacy Uhuru will leave behind when he’s sent packing in August, namely, having successfully taken care of the ICC problem courtesy of the office he holds.
What about Raila; what would he say as to why he’s running for the highest office? The answer is the same he has given in each of the two times he has vied and won the presidency but not been sworn-in.
The answer is the same his supporters and critics alike have known all along and that is, anyone objective who studies Raila’s leadership qualities, who gets the opportunity to observe how the man applies those qualities and skills, and knows of his vision for the country he has articulated since long before he was numerously detained and jailed by Moi, cannot but conclude Raila is the right person to take over the presidency in our country on each of the times he has been denied not at the ballot, but by compromised election boards.
Yet, those most afraid of Raila go around peddling all manner of garbage, propaganda, lies and distortions about him simply because they can’t fathom the man with a broom to sweep away corruption and impunity becoming President, with their blind followers buying the same, hook, line and sinker.
Given as a whole the mission upon which Raila embarked to seek change in the country going back to the 80s remains intact and given much of what he campaigned on in 2007 and 2013 remains largely unaccomplished through no fault of his, Raila will make the case yet again and the country will once again give him the opportunity to finally deliver on his vision. Let’s just make sure their resolve is not again thwarted by the state machine.
This is also why NASA should make the man it’s flagbearer.
Samuel Omwenga is a legal expert and political commentator in the US