The curtains of the 2018 presidential election theater in my home country Colombia opened officially last week. The possible break-up inside the right and left coalitions are proof that, at least for the moment, there are more players than coaches and they are willing to fight to be the head instead of the tail of their presidential ticket.
The lack of trust among the electorate, caused by the widespread reach of the most recent corruption scandals in every branch of the government, combined with the beating fear of a dictatorship contagion coming from neighboring Venezuela, keeps the future of the country in the shadows feeding the daily drama in the electoral stage.
Although the horizon is filled with fog, in my opinion, Colombian democracy is closer to Plato and Aristotle’s theory of putting the power in the hands of the people.
It is true. Politics in Colombia still function in a tribal manner and power is rotated among the so-called “dolphins” of the wealthy families. However, the right to associate contemplated in the Constitution guarantees that new parties are welcome to debut as long as they reach 2% of the legislative elections.
So, if there are not better candidates to choose from, it is our fault.
Compared with Mexico, a 120 million people country, the presidency was controlled by the same party, PRI (Partido de la Revolución Institucional) for 70 years, from 1930 until 2000.
In the case of the United States of America, a super power with more than 320 million people, its democracy is practically bi-partisan with no real opportunities for other parties to thrive.
Having said that and looking ahead with optimistic eyes, I believe my home country can still turn away from the abyss. Each generation, in the most decisive moments of our history, has produced a candidate that touched the soul of the people and hindered the demolition path of the traditional political machinery, such as Jorge Eliécer Gaitán y Luis Carlos Galán.
Nonetheless, our history has been cruel too, and their voices were silenced before the voting majority had the chance to hand them the reins of the country legitimately.
Then, what is the next step? The challenge for us, the voters, is to get informed with discipline and avoid the fake news before marking the ballot. The hate or love for candidates of the past must remain there, in the past. It is the only way to move Colombia to the future.
The challenge for the candidates, if they want the job, must interview, pass the tests, and understand that moving into the Casa de Nariño (our White House) is not a gift but a bill that must be paid in four years.
They must travel the country, from corner to corner, and visit with people not only in the states where their parties have won historically but all states. If there is anything the world learned from the 2016 U.S. presidential election was that the “forgotten” men and women rewarded who showed up and shook their hands.
I already started to check the websites of the current candidates and I have been reading their platforms. Time will tell who has enough gas to cross the finish line.
Thank you for reading and sharing.
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