Only Sinhala-Buddhist-Catholic Votes: Anatomy Of A Tribal Democracy

By Sarath de Alwis –

Sarath de Alwis

“He who can make an exception is sovereign” ~ Carl Schmitt in 1922 

The pen was once mightier than the sword. In the age of the smart phone the tongue has taken over. The point of departure of this essay is digital electioneering amidst social distancing.   

Thanks to the smartphone, behavior tends to leave behind digital footprints.  

Covid-19 has substantially altered the cacophony of the electoral process. The main contenders have made a definite, meaning full switchover to digital campaigning, micro targeting and online mobilization. 

About twelve years ago I got a PC – not the black coated variety now overspreading in Hulftsdorp. It is something called a personal computer. 

It was a maddening contraption which compelled my daughter Rashmi to gift me a clever compendium on how to get the basics right in the digital world. It was most appropriately called “Understanding Computers – a handbook for the perfect idiot” 

Thanks to that early fortuitus happening I have followed the current electioneering process on YouTube, Facebook and most significantly on WhatsApp. (Twitter eludes me still. I still cannot deal with ATMs. I fill a form and operate a savings account with a passbook.) 

The viral constraints on public rallies – humongous swarms of humans has compelled political parties and candidates to focus on YouTube and most enjoyably one on one interviews.

It has produced a number of inquisitors who represent different political shades. My favorite is the bearded baldhead. 

Clearly, the ruling party ‘Pohottuwa’ commands the digital advantage. They have been in the business for more than three years. They have the digital resource advantage both official and unofficial. The others are catching up. Thanks to the Elections Commission since the announcement of the date of elections some levelling of the playing field is thinly discernible. 

I oppose the policies of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. But that opposition does not diminish my capacity to make a rational assessment. Gotabaya is a very popular product.

There is a strong conviction amongst a large swathe of the populace that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will take the right call for the country. 

I think they are wrong. That is my opinion. I cannot prove them wrong. Only time will tell. 

Time is always telling. Time never stops telling. But we don’t listen. Only when we are kicked in the derrière that we blame time for not telling it loud enough. 

There is the world of reality. There is the world of fantasy. What separates the two is the wall of fallacy. You cannot attack the false while you are mired in fallacy. 

Mangala Samaraweera has a point. I don’t know what he will do next. But he got out of a charade – meaningless and futile.  

We must not confuse our choices. There is always a good choice and there is always a better choice. Then there is the best choice which we will not have during my lifetime because clientelist politics is too entrenched. 

Politics is not about who does what but who gets what and how much and how fast. 

In this parliamentary election the ‘Pohottuwa’ has leveraged digital technology to brand a single product – the President defender of the faith under whose benign guidance we will glimpse “vistas of prosperity and splendor”.  

Neither Anurakumara’s promise of integrity nor Sajith Premadasa’s capacity to bleed for the have-nots present a viable alternative government.

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WE WILL CONTINUE TO WRITE UNTILL A POLITICAL PACKAGE IS IMPLEMENTED IN SRI LANKA.