There are some among us who believe that money is power and money is everything in politics. The recent United States election has proved that money is nothing when placed under the rigours of democracy.
Report by Tapiwa Gomo
Money played two roles. The price tag for the 2012 US presidential campaign was the highest ever, soaring beyond $2 billion.
That is 50% of what Finance minister Tendai Biti is asking for to finance his Budget. The large part of this cash came from the capitalist group which was fronted by Mitt Romney. This a group of capitalists who are in charge of the Wall Street, banks, big corporations and those who cash in on wars. Their expression of angst was conspicuous after the Obama victory.
All markets turned red and Donald Trump, a republican, could not contain his anger as he took to social media inciting demonstration against what he called an injustice. Yes, voting Obama is considered an injustice by the elite.
The Republicans only paid for their stupidity. Voting is no longer determined by money alone. People have many other interests and the demographics have shifted.
Romney policies were not only racial, but stigmatising and this reflected during his campaign and after the election results. Romney backs hard-line immigration measures forgetting that the immigrant population is growing fast in the US.
Secondly, the leaked video in which Romney says 47% of the country does not pay income tax also contributed to his downfall.
Thirdly, it is given that the African Americans would back Obama. These three factors meant that Romney started the poll without minority groups that collectively constitute the majority.
I guess the next question is: Who was he targeting? Some analysts have suggested that perhaps Romney was targeting the suburban voters and the capitalists who were going to benefit from his tax cuts policy.
This group of people is largely made up of aging white population. Even the election results show that 59% of white voter went for Romney.
That percentage makes up to 88% white vote of the 48,1% overall vote. What is even more interesting in Romney’s self-
destructive campaign strategy is that the white voting population has reduced 2%, while the immigrant population has gone up by the same margin.
Therefore from the outset, the Romney campaign left out is what could potentially be the majority. This reality evaded the republican agenda pusher who fed or even funded the international media outlets to portray an illusionary tight race when, in fact, that was none at all.
Even by now the anger can still be seen in how the media handled the post-election period. The lesson to be drawn from the US election is that money alone can’t buy power anymore. Power lies in people and that power is colossal when the minorities are united as one for one common cause.
Comparing US elections to our own context is surely overstretching our imagination. For starters, we can not run a proper election.
We need foreign observers. Campaigning is about causing pain and sometimes deaths. People’s right to choose a leader is not based on ideas and policies on the political market. In fact, there is no such market – only prescribed ideas and policies that cannot be questionable. Sadly this applies to most, if not all political parties in the country.
However, the power of the minority vote in recent US elections is certainly a relevant topic of discussion to our context.
Since independence, our political narrative has been dominated by tribal debates instead of issue-driven.
It’s been all about Shona-Ndebele. Some political projects have fallen victim to this low level of myopicism such as a political party can’t win elections unless there is a Shona face.
It is not easy to distinguish who is Shona or Ndebele, but it is easy to identify who is suffering. If one comes from the North or South of the country or speaks the language of certain provinces then you are automatically labelled that tribe.
Of course, this way of thinking is not different from that of Romney. By universalising everyone as either Ndebele or Shona, we suppress issues and other minority groups such as great grand children of immigrants from countries such as Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Britain and other countries.
They only speak Ndebele or Shona because they were born or grew up in a place where these languages are spoken. They are just Zimbabweans who speak a Zimbabwean language.
If these minority groups come together, there is a chance they can also become a majority. Indeed like the Latinos in the US, they have their own concerns. They have every right to claim a stake in the history and development of the country especially when we consider that most towns were established around farming and mining activities predominantly driven by immigrant labour.
Like in the US, if they get over the political fear, they can surely also mobilise to become a formidable political gamechanger in Zimbabwean politics that if the political leadership outgrow the tribal narratives.
- Tapiwa Gomo is a development consultant based in Pretoria, South Africa