On beautiful Sunday mornings like this one, as I wake up in my bed, happy, well rested, thinking about what I will do today, a single simple idea comes into my mind, filling me with sense of impending doom and horror that grips me and ruins my day: We are going to have elections. Again. Very soon.
Kill me now.
It doesn’t help that I know that it won’t be that much different for the secular parties than last year’s parliamentary elections. Sure, there are new parties and coalitions and currents being formed every day, but one has to wonder if it will lead to anything tangible or real this time around, and by that I mean an actually representative Parliament. So far, from what I am seeing, it seems like no one is learning from their mistakes last time around. And while I am as excited about the legal formation of the Dostoor Party as the next guy, I am worried that they will make the same mistakes that all the parties that were formed last year made, especially the big one: The Vision.
What, exactly, is the vision of the Dostoor Party? Like many “civil” (can we call them secular already?) parties that were formed last year, the idea behind the Dostoor Party seems to be this: We are going to create a Party that aims to represent all Egyptians from all walks of life and political ideologies, in order to create a big representative party that can face the Islamists in the elections. Where did I hear this one before? Ahh, yes, the Free Egyptians Party, the social democrats Party, the Justice Party. All of them started with that same notion, and all of them crumbled because of it, with the common consensus being that those were transition parties. Why? Because they lack the Idea that makes people vote for them. They lack any long term vision for this country or the state, and any solution for the population’s problems.
And while secular parties scramble to hide that fact, the Islamist Parties actually have that solution: God. Vote for us, and we will be a pious nation, and God will bless us and solve our problems. Does it sound like BS to me? Yes. But did anyone else offer any real solution that makes this solution look like BS? No. No one has. Everyone has notions, but nothing tangible that can be presented to anyone. All of those parties have been fighting for the “civil state”, but none of them have actually told us what this civil state they are fighting for actually looks like. How will it run? How will the state structure look like? What will it change? What will be its benefits? How will it solve the problems of the people? What are the reforms and the laws that we need to create and sell to the population to ensure that it succeeds? Nothing. Just a vague notion that it will look like what we used to have before, but, ehh, better. It reminds me of the Egyptian population’s idea of living in a civilized country: One that looks vaguely like Europe, in the sense that its streets are clean. Clean streets, not equal rights, not functioning government, not the end of sectarianism, ageism and sexism, equals civilized behavior. This is why the first thing the people did on February 12th was head to Tahrir to clean it. We did a civilized revolution, and everyone praised us, so we must maintain that image, by cleaning the square. Just make it look good.
That “Just make it look good” thought is the same superficial thought that plagues the minds of all Party heads now: Everyone blames us for our inability to unify, so we need to unify with other secular parties, no matter how left or right they are, and then we will really have a political battle, and people will vote for us, because we are not Islamists, and not because we have any idea or vision as to how to solve their problems. But we won’t say we are secular. Secular parties don’t win elections, as the truism now goes, even though not a single one of them ran as a secular party before or had the organizational structure, ground operation, or campaign strategy required for any party to win an election. Nope. It’s the word secular that’s the problem, that’s why we call it a civil state. We are so smart.
Here is the truth: Parties that claim to represent everyone, represent no one. Any party, for it to exists, has to have a clear ideology or represent the interests of a segment of the population that it claims to represent (workers, small businessmen, a religious minority, etc..), which is true for none of the Parties. The Free Egyptians Party, for example, was destined to be the Party of Businessmen and to defend their interests and represent their issues, like Free enterprise,Transparency, efficient Taxation policies, the economic direction of the country, less state corruption, less bureaucracy and regulation, balancing the Egyptian budget. Did it do any of this? Nope. Is it being accused of being a businessmen’s party regardless? Yep. Take that example and test with it all of the other Parties that sprung, and ask the question: Do they represent an ideology or any real segment of the population? And if not, what’s their point of existing?
It doesn’t matter though, because everyone keeps ignoring simple truths and pretending that oranges are apples. The “civil state” fight is easy to frame: It’s a fight between progress and backwardness. How we won’t apply religious freedoms only to those who believe in Abrahamic religions for example. Or how we want even more laws in favor of women’s rights or freedoms of expression, and not only to defend the ones that exists. Or a series of national projects that moves this country and economy forward. It’s evident, but no one is doing it, and I am starting to suspect that it’s because very few in the political arena actually understand politics. Hell, some even claim that the Felool are liberals, while in reality they are conservatives and always have been, just not necessarily religious conservatives. Did anyone, ever, in any of the civil parties, point this out? Nope. Do they secretly also depend on their votes? Yes. Do they court their votes? No. But to be fair, they are not courting anyone’s votes. You are expected to vote for them because they are “symbols” and not islamists, and not because they are offering any real solution to any of your problems. Egyptian politics. Isn’t it awesome?
I am going back to bed