There is no denying the new openness where the subject of politics is concerned. More people are discussing it today than ever before. More articles have been written on the subject during the past five years than in the last decade. Television talk shows discuss hitherto uncharted topics such as government policies with the naturalness that was earlier reserved for educational subjects such as preparing for an earthquake or washing hands while dealing with poultry products. People on social media forums have dropped traditional inhibitions regarding matters of politics and assert bold opinions and advice with the matter-of-factness previously adopted for subjects such as fighting tuberculosis. The old bashfulness has been replaced by a newfound smugness that takes on delicate political matters straight on.
‘Taking a potshot’ is a phrase that is now equally familiar to those active on online discussion forums as ‘potluck’ once was. The few that wrap themselves around their anonymity in a supposed blanket of wit also strive to go beyond the badly-sketched caricatures and pun-intended write ups to talk about pressing problems that concern the masses. The Gyelpoishing Land case and the PM’s travels abroad continue to dominate the discussions but, in all that, there is also the periodic article that talks about the land case, for instance, in fairly serious terms.
These recent waves of development have sufficient critics to contain them and perhaps keep the at bay. Conservative elements resort to pressure tactics and convoluted arm-twisting. Political sentiments are often doled out to educate the masses and get them to differentiate between right and wrong, and self-styled intellectuals ramble away on television about whether we should adopt a western approach – simply because precedence needs to be set – quite forgetting that the worst examples of failed democracies can be found not far from here.
The very fact that political discussions are no longer confined to closed circles is reason enough to celebrate. But as we continue to be obsessed with the trivia, we must also continue to focus on the larger picture. And who better to remind us of that than His Majesty the King:
“As we approach the elections of 2013, we must keep in mind the foundations of our Nation and prevent all ethnic, religious or political divisions. We must participate in democracy with the spirit of harmony and fraternity.”
Flirting with politics thus far, chances are we will walk into the next elections much more enlightened. And, in future, democracy and politics may well be viewed as meaningful, not dirty. It is this hope that drives this magazine.
I should mention an exchange I had with one of my colleagues a year or so ago. I’d been writing political stories continuously at that point and had got somewhat tired of the subject. So I told him that I didn’t think anyone was interested in or affected by politics anymore.
“Bull!” he exclaimed politely. “Everything we do in our daily life is either a reflection or the result of our own, or somebody else’s politics. Make no mistake about that.”