Get off your pedestal

Prime Minister Saad Hariri meets with Speaker Nabih Berri at his Ain al-Tineh residence, Monday, Feb. 12, 2018. (The Daily Star/ Lebanese Parliament, HO)

Up until a little about two weeks ago, the airwaves were filled with electioneering rhetoric and vows of servitude from politicians trying to win parliamentary seats. Fair enough, as such speeches and pledges are part and parcel of election campaigns.

The media blackout the day before the polls cleansed those same airwaves of those politicians’ battle cries, giving the impression that the road ahead would be smooth and serene once the dust settled.

One would have thought that with the elections behind us, winners and losers alike would respect the will of the people and proceed with the business of state-building, especially with the seemingly newfound sense of partnership among politicians and with the daunting task of tackling Lebanon’s myriad challenges beckoning.

We believed, and still do, that our politicians, especially those who command blocs in Parliament, would transition from electioneering to a new state of mind that prioritizes responsibility and focuses on living up to the people’s trust, translating that trust into service.

But first they need to climb down from the very pedestals from which they proclaimed their intention to serve, and once on the ground they need to get involved in the next step, that of promptly forming a new government with the same enthusiasm shown by the president, the prime minister and the speaker.

It’s also the time to shed the usual condescending brinkmanship. The Lebanese electorate has heard it too often and for too long, and is no longer influenced by such cheap theatrics. Besides, with the elections over, there’s nothing to gain.

Our politicians need to act as servants of the people all the time, rather than just during their election campaigns. The country does not have the luxury of procrastination, horse-trading or rhetoric.

There’s much work ahead, with challenges that range from social, financial and economic considerations to graft, a rickety infrastructure, mountains of trash and electricity shortages.

The Lebanese people do not need to hear bellicose language from their representatives, but rather they need to see those pressing issues addressed, and by the very people who were voted to Parliament based on the promise that they would tackle those problems.

Politicians should also bear in mind that the international community is monitoring their every move, and any decisions to help Lebanon will be based on the merits of those moves.

Such global concern for Lebanon should not be taken for granted as the opportunity will not be there forever.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 23, 2018, on page 1.




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