Lebanon’s electoral farce of 2018 has as usual put forth the major candidates that have been in the parliament since the establishment of the country under the umbrella of democracy of course. Some other names have been glued in their parliamentary seats since the civil war and few others have joined this eternal mission couple of decades ago. What is common among them all is their unwavering dedication to their beloved country (which they obviously manifest by embracing the official seat forever after). However, taking things at face value and believing this make-believe democracy, one ought to notice that what the official polls say is quite opposite to what the citizens’ unofficial outcry want to say. One prototype of this discrepancy is the electoral scene in Bcharri, a village in northern Lebanon bearing the traditional political binaries adopted across the country, by different names and sects of course.
In any discussion about Lebanon, past and present, the shadow of the civil war always lurks in the background. And this shadow is particularly at work in Bcharri’s political scene dominated oppressively by the famous Lebanese Forces since 2005. Having adopted the “cause” since the war years, the party today claims personal ownership of that cause and outcasts whoever chooses a political path that does not serve the interests of the few of its current leaders. Though so many former members of the party have sacrificed their future for the sake of the “cause” in war time, they are entitled for recognition today only if they vow allegiance to the current leaders of the party. Otherwise, their wasted days and dreams at the hands of that atrocious war become insignificant in the face of the personal interests of the so-called leaders and so becomes their voice.
Lebanon’s modern history remains non-existent, yet Lebanese political sectarian leaders entitle themselves to portray their own story that glorifies their image and serves their political ambitions. It is worth knowing and believing that the only true story is the one remembered by those left behind or those regarded as outcasts today because they realized what the war was really about and decided to refrain from further political abuse. Building on the fallacy of sectarian enemies, the current political parties including the Lebanese Forces, still use and abuse this fallacy today to appear as the savior before their people protecting them from an imaginary enemy; which, more or less, happens to be their cherished neighbor from a different “sect.” This is the case of every political party in Lebanon blinded and driven by the sole motive of power and dominance.
Returning to the discussion of elections after this brief political and historical background, it is obviously the right of every people across the globe to thrive for a decent life the way they deem it so. With respect to political diversity and democracy, that was not the case in Bcharri for the past 10 years, where every initiative for the favor of the people and citizens has to be through the Lebanese Forces to embellish their image or not be at all, be it putting a smile on widow’s weary face to opening a hospital for the locals so they don’t have to lose their lives on the way to the nearest hospital. Their motto for over ten years is that you have the right to have a voice as long as it does not impair our “one color” political legacy inspired by our personal interests and ambitions for glory. You are solely entitled to show gratitude, even if it is for nothing, or else your betraying the “cause.”
These words are by no means an attack or an insult, they are merely a reflection on the binary of politics that keeps destroying the country and its diverse communities. A binary that feeds and sustains the dominance of the one color discourse of dominance, thus paralyzing any potential prospects for any constructive development and cooperation; which in turn, places local societies under latent oppression by hindering initiatives by other political and non-political individuals and parties with differing visions. This is the disappointing case of every sectarian community in the country.
Though democracy is most of the time romantic in definition and practice, it is yet worth asking and striving to have everyone’s voice delivered and fairly represented with respect and sportsmanship without manipulating electoral laws to cancel the other within one small community. It is a shame to hear the Lebanese Forces’ leader, Samir Geagea, belittling the locals of his own village, whom he is supposedly representing, and making fun of the way they talk describing their accent as gibberish compared to his “elite” background; while simultaneously manipulating them to sustain his dream empire and insatiable desire for power through the polls. Not to mention of course the attempts to fuel the political binary among the locals at all costs to maintain his image as a hero. If that says anything at all, it clearly states a narrow-mindedness unfitting someone claiming to be a leader. It is an equal shame to bring back the drums of war by the same leader and his affiliates in different parts of Lebanon to boost their image for political glory and secure personal ambitions, and to manipulate people to vote for them. If there is anything worth drumming for, it is peace and solidarity among the one people of Lebanon, who have been the victims of dirty politics for decades. Whether it fits such leaders’ ambitions or not, Lebanon is the place for diversity, co-existence, tolerance, brotherhood, giving, open mindedness and so on. Every endeavor that does not align with this vision is empirically doomed to fail. The scenario of Bcharri is again a prototype, and the message is for all leaders. At this point today, no one actually cares about politics and political leaders in the wake of drastic living conditions. More than half of the citizens abstained from voting, and that says more than enough.
The people are the sole eye that can authentically reflect the true results of elections with or without a foreign mission to attest to that. What the polls fail to say is that the sick are still dying at the doorsteps of hospitals that refuse to admit them without a deposit, the young are still leaving the country in search of a better future, students are still struggling to keep up with absurd tuition fees, fathers are one step closer to despair everyday in the wake of straining living conditions, the elderly are left to fate in the absence of a reliable healthcare system, artists bargain on their creativity and turn their back on their passion to pursue a less than basic living, the athletes step away from their dreams to rather focus on winning the bread of the day, the diaspora population shake their head in agony on the hope of returning one day to share a moment with their loved ones and families, women remain underrepresented with little to no rights. And if all this can be disregarded by the logic of Lebanese leaders, the pollution in the Mediterranean Sea, the garbage piling up across the country, the miserable infrastructure, the lack of clean drinking water, and many other derelictions enough to shame 128 MPs and a thousand minister may straighten up your logic and open your eyes to what is important beside your looming personal interests.
Maybe the world is failing as a whole at this point in history, the latest incidents in Gaza and the atrocious attack by the occupiers of Palestine is not the best recipe for hope, neither is Ivanka Trumps’ noble mission to make the world a little bit more disgusting than it already is. However, the current elected leaders of Lebanon are before a dramatic challenge and whatever past glories they may have attributed to themselves, the current conditions of today’s Lebanon attribute nothing but failure to every single one of them. And for the future, only time can judge. Congratulations for the winners and may the future deem you different.