September 3, 2013

A good show

The Presidential debate in Maldives the other day readying for the elections on the 7th, was a great spectacle to behold. Great preparations for it by the sponsors and an eager audience at the site and I hear a huge viewership on TV and social media. The big four were ready for the questions and articulate in their responses, and seemed forthright and well behaved for the most part.

To me this was perfect event for this moment, given the raucous in our homes and streets and wall spaces.  The responses were nothing spectacularly different to those we have been hearing on the TV channels, but the fact that they were all there together must have given the viewership, as it was for me, a leveling experience, beyond the individual bloat their TV channels gave each of them. Yet, I wonder whether this spectacle of the four on stage together may have moved hearts and minds from the groove of political affiliation that we all seem to hold so glued to. I say this because – in our case in Maldives - of the emotional attachment we all seem to have to each of our cherished candidates.  It would seem that no verbal or physical show or glitter can move us from our vantage of our support.  There are other things that can, I submit, but not an analysis of what the candidates said, even with the conviction that they did on that stage.  

So what is the purpose of the debate? To me it was the opportunity to see the four together and the occasion to measure one against the other in common public space. Such shows provide us the moment to compare the promises and assurances our candidates make in common space and time. This has a warming effect of seeing leaders in a democracy as normal human beings like us, thrust  before us in the existential moment, for a struggle of making themselves seem credible to us – in a moment where they have no advantage of a TV channel or converted viewership to give unbridled confidence.  Here, everybody is watching – a multi-party viewership, and perhaps for the first time for many to see their idol juxtaposed with others, away from the comfort  zone of being in the midst of the supportive arms of fans and followers. It is a leveling experience for the audience, and I am sure for the candidates too. 

It was a good show. Congratulations to the sponsors!

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