Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and the woke reality of a landslide | Sunday Observer

Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and the woke reality of a landslide

24 November, 2019

The 11 percentage point, 14 lakh lead by which Gotabaya Rajapaksa won the Presidential election is not a statistic.

It is a high decibel statement of intent. The people have spoken and they want the era of darkness obliterated.

In these very pages, certain opinion-makers, made a plea a few weeks back for the ‘forces of democracy’ to band together to defeat what he called the dark forces on the horizon.

The people have given these unmoored opinion-makers a lesson on the difference between darkness and light.

They bade goodbye to the era of cynicism and total despair amid the hopeless chaos of kakistocracy. From last Sunday onward, the people have begun to breathe easy.

A few canards spread by those opinion-makers need to be laid aside before we delve deeper into the story of the transition from blinding darkness, into enabling light.

One particular academic and his like-minded brotherhood, laboured under the illusion that a united front comprising of the UNP, the JVP and other sundry alternate forces could stop Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the SLPP, and ensure the continuity that these opinion makers so desperately coveted.

The long shadow of the 11 percentage point lead should tell these people how far removed from reality they were. A joint front would have brought the so called forces for democracy no more closer to defeating a candidate who secured 52 per cent of the vote, which is far more than what the UNP, the JVP and so called other alternate candidates received combined.

So, here is an essential dose of reality for the woolly headed.

The people wanted the assurance of a functioning economy and the firewall of security, and a sense of pride based on their identity as Sri Lankan citizens, over the fog of despair that enveloped them in all aspects of life in the dark chapter they just ended.

Is that difficult to comprehend? It might be, for the pride of ostriches who enjoy burying their heads in the sand for long periods of time, opting to send their messages via a strange Morse code of socio-babble, archly devised to obfuscate.

Do we even need to describe why the people preferred by far a return to the era of sanity and functionality over one of tribalism and cynical, clannish envy passing off for a Camelot drenched in democracy?

Here is a subterranean message to the ostrich brood. People gave Gotabaya Rajapaksa an 11 point lead because they had enough of the humbug of democratic good governances dangled over them by a political elite that wanted nothing more than continuity for the one project to which they were wedded — that of cynical self aggrandizement.

Suffice to say that the people are now in a mood of celebration. The feeling of relief in the homes and workplaces of ordinary folk is enough to restore faith in the power of humanity to banish all dark forces of an era forgettable for its mediocrity, but unforgettable for its fiendishness.

But, let’s not dwell too much on that bygone in this time of resurgence, these new days of woke collective consciousness of people empowerment.

‘Woke’as a political term of African-American origin refers to a perceived awareness of issues concerning social justice and racial justice. It is derived from the African-American Vernacular English expression ‘stay woke,’ whose grammatical aspect refers to a continuing awareness of these issues.

Woke’s transformation into a byword of social awareness likely started in 2008.

Forgive me, but with necessary acknowledgement, we can borrow. The people are woke to the reality that their lives depend — almost literally — on a functional economy, and assured security. People are woke to the fact that they need to live, and not drown in a sea of mindless slogans and entreaties to privilege.

The 11 point lead secured by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is the powerful manifestation of this woke reality.

And, the newly elected President is the symbolic embodiment of this new woke political culture.

He is identified with work, diligent work, as opposed to garrulous prattle about a democratic Camelot. He is identified with hard headed can-do, as opposed to woolly headed lecturing. Who can resist the cliché?

Cometh the hour, cometh the man!

The people incidentally did not ‘elect’ this government, or at least they didn’t merely elect this government.

They willed it from their own power of resourcefulness. From the time they went in their numbers to greet and commiserate with President Mahinda Rajapaksa on January 9, 2015, the movement that brought Gotabaya Rajapaksa to the pinnacle of power was literally driven by ordinary people who formed their party, chose their candidate, and then barnstormed him into power in two magical months of hope.

The movement was bottom up and not top down, and this is a splendid irony in the face of the verbosity of all those academics who issued dire warnings that any era of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s rule would be authoritarian.

How authoritarian could a people’s movement be? Gotabaya Rajapaksa was chosen by the people for one primary reason. They wanted the stamp of authority over their desire to have a man of deed rather than word, to lead their movement to make this country work again.

It is the ultimate grassroots level authority of the people that is President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s warrant to govern. The authority of the people does not flow from the barrel of a gun. On the contrary, it flows as an extension from the people’s unstoppable will to govern themselves.

The detailed history of the people’s movement of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna that ended the era of darkness passed off as an era of light— and light entertainment — will be written some day.

For the moment, it is important to identify the political currents that define the new era that is beginning.

It comes at the end of a steep learning curve. People discovered that experimenting with empty rhetorical promises of good governance with individuals who cannot run a run-down cattle shed is not just futile, but also dangerous.

Their very livelihoods, and indeed their very lives were in danger of being taken away by the dark forces of anarchy led by a kakistocracyof charlatans, and outright crooks.

From that realization stemmed the desire to decisively put a stop to all that nonsense. So people took matters into their own hands. They formed their own party, chose their own candidate and propelled him into power.

When there is a sense of urgency, the people of this country will do wonders.