Elections bring forth winners and losers. And these two factions soon find themselves with scenarios which are always dire. The loser has to contend with not only pecuniary issues but also matters of pride.
On the other side, the winner swings into office with fanfare and zeal. Whereas the loser soon finds himself lonely and isolated, the winner walks into office with hundreds of hangers on, if not thousands. Victory has many owners.
After the 2013 elections, Raila found himself lonely as his erstwhile pillars left in their droves towards Uhuru’s corner. Vultures and hyenas are smart. In politics there’s no love. It is a game of interests.
Look at the story of Donald Trump. Nobody believed he could win, even he, himself. His camp was skeletal. Today? As president, his team is overflowing with all manner of supporters. He looks set to win a second term.
The government of today is very complex. It’s sheer size can be confounding especially for a new broom walking into office.
The size alone creates an overwhelming and ever growing bureaucracy. Bureaucracy is a very complicated thing. It is the true government! Forget about election winners. Bureaucracy is the red tape at each corner. Veteran state officials run the government and dictate to the elected official what is to be done and what cannot be done. And they have security of tenure. You can’t just shove them aside.
Bureaucracy not only frustrates the winning candidate but also his hangers on. Often times impatience takes over and emotions gets frayed. Very soon, the politician finds himself isolated from both the electorate and his team.
To compound matters, the world is ever changing. Issues emerge faster that they can be solved. And on a daily basis.
Today you chair a meeting on ways to mitigate effects of extreme drought and in a few hours time, rain falls in torrents! So you move from looking for ways of supplying water to the people to getting them out of floods.
National governments contend with even more. The world is wide. Again it is a small place. All these issues tend to isolate politicians because they spend more time dealing with problems they did not anticipate.
Manifestos are put aside and authoritarianism mounts with the hope that time will be found to explain to the people the new issues. Little do the politicians appreciate that the public is not known for its logic. You either deliver on your manifesto or they kick you out, emerging issues notwithstanding.
This brings to the fore the question of intimacy when it comes to leadership. What can you achieve with intimacy if not constant pandering to the whims of the electorate?
Intimacy can guise itself as the politics of participation. Of course the antithesis of remoteness is involvement but it must be objective.
Involvement normally ends at the formulation of manifesto stage and increasingly becomes irrelevant as new issues emerge. But that should not be the case.
All governments face unforeseen difficulties which eventually force it to a compromise, more so, on unpopular decisions. But the fact remains that there must be a degree of popular involvement in the formulation of policies even if the final decisions lie with the leaders.
The public must feel their input was put into consideration. Seeking their input does not mean holding a referendum anytime decisions are to be made. Public input means a genuine attempt at involving the people, through their representatives in decision making. Constant dialogue goes a long way! And smart leaders always find ways of balancing both intimacy and remoteness. That is governance.
By the way, PR cannot replace intimacy!