Daryl Ilbury

Posts Tagged ‘elections’

Atheists really are nice people

In Free-thinking, Politics on August 5, 2015 at 3:51 pm

Atheists-Have-Nothing-to-Die-ForWith the inevitable pace of interest in the US Presidential elections picking up pace as more and more politicians throw their hats into the ring, and anticipation grows of when Donald Trump will implode, discussion around dining room tables will invariably turn towards the qualifications of each candidate. A key component of qualification will be their religious affiliation, for no other reason than it seems to be necessary for a candidate to be religious.

Comedian and TV host Bill Maher recently tapped into this rather strange phenomenon. He went on to say, “Poll after poll shows Americans would elect almost anyone before they elect an atheist”. He then added rather contentiously, “They would probably elect a pedophile before an atheist.”

How correct is he? A recent Gallup Poll suggests that maybe, just maybe, Americans are beginning to step out of the Middle Ages and join the rest of the civilised world in realising that atheists aren’t evil. According to the poll, although an atheist as a presidential candidate would enjoy broad acceptance from those who don’t identify with any religion (understandable), 91% of whom say they would support an atheist for president, this drops to 47% among Protestants, and is not much higher among Catholics (58%). As a result, the overall percentage who would vote for an atheist stands at 58%.

That’s not very high, but it’s a lot higher than it was back in the late 1950s when a similar poll said only 18% of Americans would vote an atheist in as President.

What does stand out in the poll though is that although people of various religions have varying levels of rejection of candidates who are gay or lesbian, evangelical Christian, Muslim, atheist or socialist, atheists themselves are a lot more accepting of any candidate, irrespective of their upbringing (with an understandable disinclination towards evangelical Christians – there are enough of those anchored in the wings in the Tea Party dragging the country backwards).

The clear message here is that atheists really are nice people…ideal candidates for providing moral leadership to a country needing it.

20:20 vision…and it’s not good

In Eish!, Politics, Scoundrels on April 27, 2014 at 4:43 am
ANC moving forward

ANC election poster promises signposting actual delivery

On the much-lauded 20th anniversary of the first truly democratic elections in South Africa, there’s a lot of retrospective navel-gazing in the media mixed with modern promises and political fighting-talk ahead of the next elections on 7th May. For me this is all captured in the image on the left.

Some context: I took the picture during my daily walk to work along one of the major streets in the centre of Pretoria, South Africa’s administrative capital. It’s a snapshot of conditions of a portion of the city that’s a stone’s throw from the city hall – an ANC stronghold – and a couple of minutes drive away from the seat of national Government – The Union Buildings – also full to the rafters with senior ANC decision-makers.

At first glance you notice the rubbish strewn on the pavement. But look closer at the poster half way up the pole (you may need to double click on the image). It’s an ANC election poster showing President Jacob Zuma with the words underneath ‘Together we move South Africa forward’. The juxtaposition between promise and delivery is jarring.

What you can’t see is the litany of broken paving, missing manhole covers and indefinitely suspended road works that are repeated throughout this part of the capital, and through which the municipal, provincial and national ANC decision-makers travel regularly.

This is not an isolated case. The ANC’s election claim it has a ‘good story to tell’ of governance over the last 20 years has been found by respected fact-checking journalism organisation Africa Check to be almost entirely false. The media are also full of stories of corruption, mismanagement and abandonment of responsibility. Another, more worrying, snapshot of this is in the deterioration of the once highly-respected Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital.

What makes all this so truly unbelievable is that it most probably won’t make a shred of difference to the people of Pretoria who are expected to return the ANC to govern the city, the province of Gauteng and the nation as a whole come 7th May.

So why is this? In brief: the typical South African doesn’t have sufficient maturity of understanding of their entire role and responsibility in the democratic process. They don’t understand that it is they who ultimately hold the Government to account, and that this responsibility requires rigorous implementation at election time.

This is very much a reflection of the lack of critical thinking by South Africans – a result of a decades of state control during apartheid; embedded traditional cultures that demand unquestioning reverence towards leaders; and a pervasive identification with religions that provide promises of delivery – without accountability – by mythical beings.

Personally, I believe that if the people of Pretoria walk past this kind of scene every day and still vote the ANC to power on 7th May, they deserve to get screwed. Again.