When politicians blurt out some nonsense or a sound promise, you should take note and remember it – every single word. Is it worth it? Certainly, yes – at least because it is so easy, especially these days, when the Internet is there to help you remember what a politician said, Vaidas Saldžiūnas wrote in lrytas.lt on 9 September.
All you need to do is type in the search bar the politician’s name or a phrase that the nation’s favoured one would perhaps want to forget or, leastways, that he would want you to forget so that you would elect him again, having neglected all the blunders, fallacies, and promises.
There is another reason as to why it is worth taking note and remembering: on your way to the polling district, you would, thus, protect yourself and others from a populist who is smiling just as he did before the last election.
On the other hand, it is not such an easy task to separate the demagogues from the responsible politicians. However, this task is necessary and didactic – because unfulfilled promises stink. As we all now, dutiful citizens cannot stand the stench. Maybe we can afford ourselves to be undutiful…
No, we cannot. It will be your own fault if, prior to entrusting the governing of the state for 4 years and giving your vote to a bunch of people, you do not puzzle over and wonder as to what a politician is promising and what are the good and bad things that he did in the past.
Unfortunately, the culture of debating, which is so important and successfully existing in big countries, such as the U.S. and France, is still going through its embryonic phase in Lithuania.
Even if some Americans are appalled at what the Republicans say about the ‘legitimate rapes’ or what the Democrats chatter about foreign policy, it is usually the candidate who talked less nonsense that wins – a candidate who can defend his position not by flinging around empty promises, but by giving arguments.
Many in Lithuania are no longer surprised or affected by the populist leaders of the Labour party and Order and Justice’s drivelling in the live debates that are finally being organised.
On the other hand, they used to be, they are, and they will continue to be like that; and their electors – the people who are disappointed in everything, who are not able to live without a firm hand and who do not have any political principles or responsibility – will take in such talks like a dose of nectar. They have already forgotten Uspaskich’s lawsuits of secret bookkeeping and the Constitution being trampled on by the patting Paksas – populist electors do not care about that. And, what is the concern of the electors who are looking for an alternative? – Common sense.
A logical question then is why the so-called traditional parties that have a strong backbone, political wisdom, and a clear ideology reduce themselves to the level of cheap populism? Do they not see the survey results that are poorer each year, showing the growing no-confidence that the citizens have not only in parties, but also in the entire political system?
Many a time politicians, sociologists, or psychologists have emphasised the political immaturity of Lithuanian society. However, who else, if not the politicians, can cultivate it? Unfortunately, they do it dim-wittedly.
A belief that the citizens of the country can only be attracted by magazines, images, or any other cheap gewgaws demonstrates that we are treated like idiots. To heck with the fact that it is an insult. What is worse is that such an attitude is a shot in the eye to the populists: their ranks are thickening in proportion to society’s disappointment in the parties and political system. For many reasons, it is too dangerous to have in Lithuania what the mature democratic countries in the West can afford having.
That is why the (independent) political leaders who are calling themselves responsible should refrain from such irresponsible statements that we heard this week.
Seimas Spokesperson Irena Degutienė and Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius agreed that it was necessary to increase funding for national defence.
The thought is rather reasonable – it seems that, next year, we will come up with Luxembourg in terms of defence expenditure and be the least-allocating country (0.75% of the GDP) in NATO.
What is the response that we hear back from the governing coalition? ‘We will strive’, ‘we will try’, ‘we have to’, or ‘we must’. Such meaningless words have sounded for over a decade now; and it does not matter that the great parties sign under them – the promised gradual increase in the funding of national defence is not happening.
The promises, agreements, and signatures are simply being forgotten or ignored without thinking about the consequences. Is this the case because society nearly does not care at all?
By the time the state and society eventually start caring it might be too late. It is self-deceitful and myopic to ignore the problem – just like the bicker over acquiring helicopters.
The proposal that was presented to society out of time was grinded by the populists. Lithuania might be left without any money, helicopters, experienced rescuers and, having no reliable aircrafts, the NATO air police.
Like the domino effect, a growing mistrust in Lithuania would follow. The country that fails to fulfil its obligations, that is involved in the populist rat-race and that is unable to keep its promises and ensure the salvation of its citizens might simply be ignored – just like its requests.
The national defence funding issue is only one of the examples of the political promises that were made by those in, or outside, the governing coalition. There have also been numerous promises regarding the social needs, energy, etc. Populist slogans can again serve to fool those who believe that promises are not acted upon only due to the ‘obstacles that the political opponents create’.
It is not just the politicians, but also the citizens who should realise that responsibility for the promises should be demanded, because empty promises are like checkers – a counter that is stuck in the corner and that cannot move is called ‘stinky’.
The only difference is that when you play checkers you lose a game. When you play with promises, you can blow the entire country.