Votes for Sale26.04.10
Aired on April 26, 2010
Narration by Baben Lumapas
VOTES FOR SALE
One of the most interesting findings in a study of the poor and how they choose their leaders was their attitudes toward vote buying. Yes, they condemn it and know it is wrong. Yet they take the money, believing that they would get their revenge on the buyer at the ballot box. Something is wrong with this picture, but what can we do to stop this perpetual cycle of vote-buying.
One principle of a democratic political process is equality — both in terms of opportunity to choose and the chance to be chosen. Vote buying undermines this equality. For every person who says they will deliver their revenge at the ballot box, we can count on those others who will be gratefully vote for the sponsor. Hence, the incentive remains for candidates to spend more and more money to buy people’s loyalties. This in turn undermines the chances of those more worthy candidates who refuse to bribe voters. The cycle continues. The poor accept dirty money to put someone in office who does not have their best interest at heart.
At the same time, the right to vote is also undermined by the corrupt practice of vote buying. Here, the process of making a responsible choice — to elect a qualified candidate — is undermined by the promise of short-term gain. If voters take the bait, it will result in the perpetuation of the same system that keeps them in poverty. The money will continue to flow and people will remain poor between election cycles.
Perhaps it is cynicism that drives many of our brothers and sisters to accept small cash amounts and yet raise no fuss about it. So, why should any of us bother, when it seems so hard to change the way we run our country?
We SHOULD care, and strive to make positive changes because that is God’s desire for His people — to live above corruption….to shine like stars in a crooked a depraved generation. As such, it is the people of God who should model the kind of leadership that won’t require giving cash or buying support. The words of Jesus remind us: “ ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves.” (Lk 22:24-26, with emphasis)
That is the kind of servant leadership we need. We can start by making sure that we ourselves are not involved in any way in vote buying or vote selling. Then we must demand that vote-buying should stop. And finally, we should offer our poorer brothers and sisters a better alternative to accepting bribes. When we work together with the poor to select just leaders, the results will be politicians who develop programs and policies to benefit the whole community.