The Malta Independent 26 September 2021, Sunday

TMID Editorial: Politics – The Ġahan voter

Thursday, 5 August 2021, 08:29 Last update: about 3 months ago

We have known it for quite a while that most politicians think of the rest of the population as being in their grasp and can be easily manipulated.

They smile, pose, shake hands and mingle with others simply because they need the people’s vote to be elected. They attend village feasts not because they like them, but to use them as an opportunity to be seen. They do door-to-door visits not because they are sociable people, but in search of that number one preference that will help them get that seat in Parliament. They send birthday messages or condolences not because they really care about your celebrations or mourning, but as a reminder that they will be contesting the next election.

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Otherwise, they would stay on their pedestal, looking down on the applauding herd. You know, many politicians believe they are a superior breed.

The way that Edward Zammit Lewis was caught disparagingly describing the average voter should therefore not be taken as a surprise.

The Birkirkara lawyer, who to top it all is the minister responsible for equality, has been exposed as having referred to people as fools – “Ġahan”, to be exact. Ġahan is a fictional character that has come to represent people who do stupid things. This is how Zammit Lewis referred to the average Labour voter in an exchange of text messages with the man who was later accused of being a mastermind in the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

What Zammit Lewis said will not help his individual cause. It will be remembered that he was not elected directly in the last election, a result that caused him a place in the Joseph Muscat 2017 Cabinet of Ministers. He made it to Parliament via a casual election, and only returned to the Cabinet in 2019 when Helena Dalli resigned to become a European Commissioner. He might find it harder to get votes in the next election.

But Zammit Lewis is not the only one who believes that the voters are fools. He is unfortunate to have been caught saying so, and this will surely hurt him. Yet other politicians share his same thoughts, if not worse.

This particular incident should help people realise what kind of people politicians can be. Unfortunately, many are those who idolise politicians, look up to them as if they were some sort of superior being, and lay the red carpet wherever they walk. Some even sacrifice their own hobbies and families to be of service to politicians.

But politicians are there to serve, not to be served.

Many of them forget this once they are elected and, if their party is in government, given a place on the Cabinet or some other important post. Many of them treat others with disdain and condescension, expecting respect without reciprocating it. Many of them look at others as “voters”, not as “people”.

The electorate should remember this when they come across politicians. Otherwise they would then really be a Ġahan.

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