Friday, November 25, 2011

Election Season: Club to Presidential

The Maadi club elections took place late September 2011. Had the revolution not taken place, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have gone to the vote. My mother also went to vote even though she has never done so prior to the revolution either. It wasn't out of fear that she had never gone before; I doubt any election thugs would have been present at the club, but out of indifference. So as a side note, one of the revolution pros is that my mother now believes in using her right to vote.
When the ads stared for the club elections, people were presenting themselves everywhere, forming affiliations, and recommending candidates. Maadi was bombarded with banners to the extent that my friends who aren't from maadi were discussing the candidates. And so the research began. Friends were presenting their info about the candidates they knew, I knew some candidates personally and trusted them. Consequently, I trusted the people they chose to form affiliations with. Some people I knew were bad from personal experience and tried to persuade my friends not to vote for them.
The advantage of the club elections was that the maadi club community is relatively small, so when someone is good, his actions speak for themselves most of the time. In addition, the candidates were all personal acquaintances of the voter or acquaintances of the voter’s friends, this includes families that know each other, friends that recommend, and so on. A voter could get someone’s entire history, including who he played football with which was apparently a huge factor in deciding the votes. Despite all that, rumors came out that some of the people whom I personally knew were related to some Islamist political groups and were going to ban women from getting into the club and other absurd allegations! Club or no club, these elections were just like any other political election process; the dirty game of politics began!
Right before the club elections, I had a feeling of a burden and a responsibility falling to me. True, it's just the club, how bad could it be?! But still, my single vote may change the polls, what I learn about someone from personal experience could help them get in a place where they could do good or prevent them from getting into a place where they would do damage. It would have been so much easier to NOT vote for anyone, but in the end I had my conscience to report to and it would not go easy on me.
Moving on from the tiny not very important club elections to the more important, more aggressive, and by all means more frightening parliamentary elections, passing by the engineers syndicate elections on the way; again, I am put in the same position of having to select people to represent me and so many other people in the syndicate or the parliament. Again, I am researching who to vote for and who not to vote form who would do good and who wouldn't. I have to be smart enough to learn who is a hypocrite and who is all words. I have to give my voice to whole parties of people; 42 for the syndicate alone, and more dangerously, 2 for parliament in addition to a list. Those are people with hardly any personal acquaintances within the circle of people I know, and I am supposed to pick complete strangers! In all honesty, If I was afraid for giving my vote at the club, I am now by all means terrified!
As for the syndicate, anyone who is not in a list with a specific program is hard to pick. As engineers, we believe in the power of teams. It was easier to rule out some groups which represented the Muslim brotherhood or the Salafis even though if we take the historical pattern into consideration, they will most probably win. Again, as engineers, too many fake promises alienated me; any programs that doesn't make sense or plays on greedy voters also alienated me. finally, I was able to get some info on a final group that related to a history of corruption for a certain group in addition to involving family ties in the matter, so here's another group out of the race for me. Still, even though I used the process of elimination rather that a process of selection, I don't trust the people I am voting for, I have no idea if they go through with their promises, if they are corrupt, or if they will really fall through. At this point, I can only pray.
I am going through a similar dilemma with the parliament elections (that is of course assuming SCAF ignores those in Tahrir squares of Egypt, even if they don’t, I will not boycott the parliamentary elections because it is my duty as much as going to Tahrir). I don't know these people, I don't trust the political parties, and no prominent figures are running for parliament in my area. I envy the Heliopolis people; they have at least 3 candidates with very clear histories and stands so they can easily pick and choose. So my policy again lies in the process of elimination. I know I won't vote for the Muslim brotherhood since they are already popular, well funded, and well organized. In addition, I don't trust their "my interests come first" tactics which only prove that they want power and will not necessarily have the county's best interests at hand. As for some of the other parties, not all have shown good stands with respect to a lot of situations so I am eliminating some more. Finally, even though my single vote for the individual positions may not count as much for non popular candidates, my vote for the list, assuming they follow the same methodology used in Tunisia, will help get some of the not so popular groups into parliament with minimum candidates. If anything, my tactics would go to trying to find as much diversity as opposed to picking a party like that of the Muslim brotherhood for example which I know for a fact will get the biggest number of votes due to their prominent presence on the streets of Egypt.
It may be too early to talk about presidential elections now, but they are the "make it or break it" elections. We're all going t go through this whole mess all over again with the country at stake. But I guess, for me at least, it gets clear that people who show weak positions in the worst times are not people I would vote for, or people who turn a movement of the people into a political “ace of spades” to try to win the votes of the silent majority. True, maybe not everyone is showing guts in dealing with the current situation politically, but at least there are people who don’t say words that, to everyone out there in Tahrir squares today, are absolute nonsense. It is scary that my individual vote counts, but it does. It's scary that some people get to the simpler less educated minds with fake promises. It's scary how some abuse religion for personal gains and quests for power. I don't trust my vote, nor do I trust the votes of other people, but I hope God guides me to the right path, which is not related in the least to those who claim that they will enact the word of God.
I am afraid of making the wrong decisions and picking the wrong people in each and every election I take part in. But at the end of the day, to vote is the right thing to do, to vote for who I think is right is the responsible thing to do, and finally to research carefully before going to the votes is the only way I can stop my conscience from nagging me and of being haunted by "what if" till next election season. It’s funny how my civic duty is the only way I can actually feel empowered in this country, not connections, not money, not position; my right to vote!

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