Did you ever wonder where we got the expression “scraping the bottom of the barrel”? Why the barrel? What’s wrong with the bottom? Well it comes from the time when fruit – apples for example – were stored in barrels and the apples that would be left at the bottom of the barrel would be bruised and not the best quality. Hence “scraping the bottom of the barrel” or choosing from what is left. Choosing from among the worst because you have no other choice. Yep, you can see where I am going with this but I cannot help it can I?
Here we are getting ever closer to E-day (that’s election not ecstasy) and the level of political discourse has descended into predictable levels of exchanges of circum tauri (that’s bullshit in the vernacular). Do you remember those early halcyon days when we all yearned for political programmes/manifestos to be published so as to see what the parties have to offer or criticise? Well they came and went in a flurry of billboards, buzzwords and bull. We are now left with the dark side of politics doing the works.
The gullibility gene is not very common in my family and therefore I insist on looking at what the parties have to offer with a critical eye that is above any partisan impulse – much to either side’s chagrin of course. So, at this point, what do the parties have to offer to the arms-length observer? Nothing. Well, not nothing really but an exchange of accusations and finger-pointing that are meant to point out to us that “the other side” is up to its neck in corruption.
Joseph’s Labour is high on a wave of enthusiasm. It has mastered the “unity” con to perfection. Hi party spent five years spinning the yarn that Malta is the pits and practically in need of salvation with half the country (or more) living in appalling conditions and who cannot afford the slightest bit of distraction let alone luxury. Built on the platform of the expensive utilities, wrought around the eccentricities of Franco Debono’s earthquakes and decorated with the stucco of “the face of change” complete with new logo and the practical disapparition of the political party, Joseph’s movement spun it’s own fairytale where the inevitable conclusion would be a brighter future under what would supposedly be a government for all.
Underneath all the rhetoric lie a ramshackle set of populist measures and a team that is far from promising for the future. Yet the plan sells. It sells mainly because the build up fed what Maltese know how to do best and that is be generally dissatisfied and grumble. It also sells because the other lot have proceeded down the slippery slope to mediocrity and have become an easier target than ever.
In fact, speaking of the other lot, what were they thinking? The blue and red faces from the latest billboard must win the prize for the worst premeditated electoral gaffe ever. The nationalist don’t only seem to have lost it but they are also forming committees trying hard to find out what “it” is and how to possibly bring “it” back. For one time too many they have fallen in this false trap laid by Joseph’s minions – playing into the role of “evil divisive party”. They don’t even seem to understand the fallout of this “blue or red face” business in real terms. “Look beyond the rhetoric” they tell us. Sure. We’re trying but there’s nothing, nowhere.
The truth is out there but nobody seems to be bothering to look for it. The panem et circenses of the parties’ criminal spin has reached new heights of popularity. Labour are trying their damnedest to link the PN (and particularly Minister Gatt) to the oil scandals. Joseph keeps dropping hints that are supposed to “raise eyebrows” but end up being intellectual demi-farts that can only be fawned upon by a journalistic class that has been trained to ask “How high?” whenever he says “jump”. Truth is there is nothing linking the PN or government to the oil commissions. It is definitely a corrupt web that has been uncovered but a web that could have existed under any government.
Then the PN comes along and brings out its undercover recordings. Sure we have documented evidence of dirty business in party clubs being covered up by high level party members – a deputy leader and now possibly a leader to boot. It’s bad. Very bad. But something tells me that party clubs across the island are not exactly hosting M.U.S.E.U.M. meetings as the nationalist party pole dancing club proved back in 2010. Then again there’s another point to be made here. Why did the PN bring out 2010 recordings now? Was it ok to sit on them for so long?
The tired spin is now going to extremes. We are in what I call a Magritte moment – you are slammed with a pipe right in front of you and then you are told “This is not a pipe”. What I find is that the more time passes the more the enthusiastic carcading voters are willing to believe the words that are being channelled into their head and not the big picture that is being painted so clearly before them.
In a normal world the picture would tell them a very clear message: that not everything (if anything) is right in both the houses. Yes, I will take the arrogant position and judge voters by accusing them of ignoring the possibility of an alternative vote. While both parties scrape the bottom of the barrel we should be dismissing them as an option. At least those of us who refuse to have our intelligence insulted. We should not be carried away by the simple puerile motivation of “they’ve been too long in power” or “they haven’t changed one bit”. Instead of letting the filth cancel each other out and returning to our instinctive partisan bias we should be rejecting the idea of abetting the return of the PLPN hegemony to power one more time.
There are no more excuses not to vote different. No amount of baseless accusations about “wasted vote” or “responsible voting” should stand in the way of a nation that desperately deserves much more than this barrel-bottom politics that it so gullibly accepts every five years or so.
This time round you could really make the difference. It’s either that or more of the usual shit guaranteed.