Politicians misbehaving in public spheres

They are taking the cue from Trump and smearing their way to power

In Summary

• Politics has always been a dirty game, but now it's getting ugly

Politicians argue
Politicians argue

As is routine, every Sunday morning I wake up to scroll the social platforms to see what issues of the day Kenyans are discussing before sitting down to write my observations of the week. This time, my attention was drawn to what seemed like an overnight war of words between an elected MP and a public personality.

Scrolling through the thread to see how the fight started and where it was headed was my undoing. The negative effects of what I read stayed with me for the rest of the weekend. It’s not the first time that Kenyan political or public figures have gone head-to-head in public spheres, and it won't be the last. I think what is more infuriating is that we actually elect these bozos.

They start off as friends, then start jabbing at each other, and before you know it, they are dragging each other through the mud, leaving the public squealing with glee. People lap up gossip and scandal for entertainment value. Which is why our politicians walk around believing they are the main characters of the reality TV programme.

We all know that Kenyan politics is grounded in popularity, scandal and power. Most of the elected officials are people whose agendas and history are questionable, to say the least. But because they have money, power and connections, they manage to ‘dupe’ the common mwananchi by roping them in with stories, fables and distraction tactics, which largely include attacking their opponents on a personal level.

They attack each other's mothers, wives, sexual escapades and spill the beans on their opponent’s private lives. They just dig so low, leaving no stone of shame unturned. Campaign seasons are just smear campaigns in sheep’s clothing. It becomes a ferocious battle of back and forth until the sassiest winner makes it past the ballot. However, the precedent is set, this is how our politicians believe they can behave throughout their term in office.

If you think about it, in the past 20 years, all elections in Kenya have been rooted in some kind of scandal, other than the 2002 election, when the whole country banded together to put an end to former President Moi’s 24 years of tyranny, the following elections have been simply disastrous. From Kibaki’s self-swearing-in ceremony, to slim-margin wins that result in chaos and violence. Kenyans keep getting hoodwinked by the born-rich, the hustlers, the handsome, the religious, the ‘progressive’. Sometimes, people get elected for simply having a beautiful wife or family.

In all fairness, I believe most politicians across the world have adopted the ‘shock value’ approach, where they gain fame by saying the most incendiary, preposterous statements just to gain attention. Donald Trump’s political career is a great example of this method. In Italy, Georgia Meloni’s far-right views and neo-facism ideologies are what got her elected as Prime Minister. As such, most politicians across the globe have started realising that there is a usefulness to standing out by saying inflammatory statements that generate attention.

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