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Opinions of Saturday, 15 January 2011

Columnist: Alpha, Shaban Barani

Tu Quoque - 'You Too Are The Same' POLITICS

When my philosophy lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ), Yaw

Dua, finished treating fallacies in our philosophy class, I had come to a

conclusion that the vast majority of politicians were playing fallacious

politics which in the final analysis rid the good people of Ghana from the

real bread and butter issues.

The basic issue was simple; a fallacy meant an error in reasoning. With

fallacies, an argument is put forth only for any arguer within the discourse

to hastily jump to a conclusion by setting aside the substantive issues.

The word “tu quoque” derives its root from a late 17th century Latin term

literally meaning, “you too.” By definition of the Bloomsbury Encarta World

English dictionary, tu quoque is defined as; “used when accused of a crime

to accuse the accuser of the same crime.”

Relating it to the political landscape and what transpires, tu quoque

politicking perspires the average Ghanaian follower of politics and leaves

everybody – including politicians themselves – bereft of any inspiration to

die for our dear homeland, Ghana.

So an issue supposed to be of national importance and geared towards

improving the lot of Ghanaians is reduced to a situation where political

opponents, wait for an argument to be tabled, instead of addressing the

substantive issue, they have found solace and succor in driving home the

daft, moot and nauseating point, “you are no better.”

Funny and most childishly enough, the politicians lose sight of the fact

that, hiding behind an opponent’s fault as basis to repel any advancing

argument is in itself a tacit admission of having committed an error.

Due to the scoring of cheap political points and desperate efforts at

political face-saving, a politician finds it prudent to drag the other party

into the general scheme of events for committing, having committed and most

likely to commit take the same wrong step.

Tu quoque politicking is one that is played right from the top echelons of

political power, right down to the lay man and woman who indulge themselves

in political exchanges on party political grounds, simply put, it cuts

across the whole political strata.

It takes place amongst governments, flag bearers, and aspiring members of

parliament in their electoral campaigns and subsequently on the floor of the

legislature. With respect to it prevalence on the media landscape – print

and electronic – the least said the better.

Admittedly however, tu quoque politicking is sometimes played with so much

wit and trickery that makes it appear to listeners and readers as a kind of

comparative politics when politicians tend to ask in the heat of an argument

whether or not their opponents would have handled issue s any better if

presented with a similar set of circumstances.

Hold on a minute! The difference between diversionary politics and a

comparative one should be made clear to diffuse our minds of any such

attempts at being bamboozled by politicians to accept mediocre answers as

fair and right.

When a party or arguer enumerates a series of achievements or

accomplishments chalked by a party and challenges the other to lay bare his

performance, comparative politics would have been established and rightfully


The only basis on which one may question comparative politics is with

respect to intervening variables such as duration within which the

comparison is being made and a given set of circumstances that may have

precipitated a particular outcome of events.

Then comes fallacious politics, which is simply a ploy to run away from

substantive issues up for discussion by questioning the personality involved

in the argument, by so doing belittling or leaving the main issue to linger

on the side line as though it were no longer important.

What we all can do to steer clear of this and keep politicians up and doing

with respect to addressing the very issues at the core of national

development and growth in all aspects of our national life is, to open up

our ears to political discourse as transpires on the airwaves and in the


We must not let politicians off when they leave issues hanging and go

battling over the extraneous elements in any argument. What is must be

addressed as such without skirting round the issue and letting lose venom

and spewing political desperation on opponents.


The media which sadly enough is supposed to be representing the views of the

lay man and woman have also resorted to playing along with the concept of

diversionary politics as they have incessantly refused to hold accountable

the political powers for the countless promises they make to the electorate.

This state of affairs have been influenced largely by the growth of the

media and the subsequent segmentation of the media along political line,

where a certain media out fit declares its stands on an issue, then put logs

into their ears and blindfold themselves to the mistakes of the political

group they endorse. They see and hear no evil about the party whose cause

they are for.

This phenomenon, suffice is to reiterate is a cross political occurrence

that has to a large extent compromised the media’s objectivity and gate

keepers role, more scaring is the fact that, the formation of opinions by

most Ghanaians is premised largely on what they hear, read and see on/in the


The fact that things went wrong during a particular period is not, cannot,

and would not in this life or the next be enough a justification for anyone

to assert that, another interested party has no right to question why

something has gone wrong.

For sometime now, this brand of politics has rid Ghanaians of the chance to

get to the crust of issues as these issues are left mid way into

submissions, usually with the accused party running off with a lame argument

that is cast in the shape of an attack on the opponent, Away with fallacious

politics, it begins with you and I so let the clean up start now!!

Credit: Shaban Barani Alpha