Feature Article of Sunday, 11 November 2012

Columnist: Mensah, Richard Obeng

Vote For Honesty

Election is a formal decision making. The decision is based on choosing one person or group of persons instead of the other(s). The people to choose from may all appear capable and daring. It is also about choosing between two good or two evils, but usually not between the obvious good and obvious bad. It is said that the good has some bad stuff and the bad also has some good stuff. Ella Wheeler Wilcox, a poet, wrote, “There are two kinds of people on earth today, just two kinds of people, no more, I say. Not the good and the bad, for ’tis well understood. That the good are half-bad and the bad are half-good…Not the sinner and saint, for it’s well understood…the two kinds of people on earth I mean are the people who lift, and the people who lean”. This means that it is better to choose people who can honestly add positive value to your personality and society as a whole. Lean people are energy suckers and unproductive, avoid them! Choose honest people who are lifters. But if you were to choose between a lifter and an honest person, go for the latter.
Nature abhors leadership vacuum so the electorates must make a decision. Certainly, there is no wisdom choosing from two obvious devils. Choosing from the two obvious good is also very difficult. However, as already pointed out, the choice is usually between the two less obvious good. One great guide to the electorates in making this decision is the issue of honesty. “Honesty,” so goes a good saying, “is the best policy”. Honesty truly is the chief of policies. This means personalities or policies on their own are not valuable if they are devoid of honesty.
Honesty is the quality of being fair, morally upright, and truthful. And real partisan politician or political party must possess this quality. Governing a nation or representing a constituent demands more than political manifestoes, policies and a team to execute them. It is more about being honest in words and deeds. Without honesty, a team will loot or mismanage resources or both; political manifestoes are mere slogans; and policies remain theories. For ex-president Jimmy Carter, the people in any nation deserve to have government as good, honest and moral as they are. It is said that more than eighteen months before he won the presidential nomination, Carter travelled the fifty states, preaching the need for moral revival in high places. The basic issue of 1976, in the view of the Democratic nominee, was the decay of morality and decline of honesty in government. He said, “The people of the country feel they’ve been betrayed. They don’t understand why something is going on in our nation’s government that is a matter of embarrassment and shame. The competence of government is not an accepted characteristic any more. No matter what a person hopes to do ultimately in life, no matter what his top hope or aspiration might be, he feels, generally, that Washington is an obstacle to the realization of that hope, rather than an asset to be tapped in the future, in the consummation of that hope”.
Ghanaians indeed “deserve to have government as good, honest and moral as they are”. The political system of Ghana should no more be made to be viewed as a breeding ground for greed, oppression, corruption, political unrest and dishonesty! The 2012 general election is more than infrastructure, access to education, free quality education, agriculture, health-care, industrialization or employment. We must address the decay of morality and honesty in our government and society in general. We need moral revival in both high and low places. The political system of Ghana must be an asset not an obstacle. Dear reader, vote for honesty. You can know them by their fruits, not policies!

Richard Obeng Mensah, author of If You Think of Your Opposition You Lose Your Position.