Lebanon’s problems are simple in the sense that they all of stem from the same issue, which is consecutive parliamentary elections produced the same shitty outcomes. As a result, the ruling class that we all love to hate has always seen its legitimacy extended for 4 more years. That is why, despite the protests; Lebanon’s parliament -the heart of its governing system- never once was under serious threat to resign. It is, in the end, a product of democratic elections. Elections that produced a purely political, and secular, parliament.
It is also why, the constant cries and chants for resignation, which way too often fall on deaf ears, serve more as a shot in the foot rather than a step forward. It’s focusing on the past while ignoring the future. If you really want change, and especially if you want it in Lebanon, then you have to realize that no matter how many times you ask, these public servants in Zegna suits aren’t going to step down willingly. Every day spent pursuing this tired tactic is a day wasted.
It is also another day that this regime can chalk up as a win, as Lebanon etches closer to the 2022 parliamentary elections. Parliamentary elections that by many accounts, and according to several statistical bodies, will likely see the country reproduce much of the same pool of politicians, back into parliament, and ultimately back into the government and presidency.
The reality is Lebanon faces many obstacles on the road towards true change. The most notable obstacle is the controversial election law that is currently in place. And for those who are hopeful of change, because of the scenes from several Lebanese university elections, that saw independent candidate register victories; I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but these developments will not translate onto the national stage. This election law is built to stop something like that.
It’s an election law that is rigged in high regard towards the political parties. But that should not be a surprise. After all, they did create it. It is also a law so hard to understand, I bet any regular person would struggle to explain it, let alone use it to vote. It’s funny and you can laugh but it’s true. That’s why arming that same person with this law and trusting them to change the outcome of elections would be self-sabotage. It’s like asking your friend to drive you somewhere and then providing them with the Vernam Cipher as directions. The risk of you driving off a cliff is high up there.
Another reason why Lebanon is doomed for more of the same in 2022 is the lack of credible candidates from the other side. Yes, we Lebanese absolutely love the allure of folklore. But in reality it does nothing to put bread on our table. We’re as sharp as vinegar but our end product is just as bitter. Despite there being a “revolution”, there has yet to surface any alternative and authentic candidate that ties together all our political and civil aspirations. We “claim” to be chasing change, yet we’re very much stuck in the same place. And still, we drag our knuckles on the ground, call each other names and think that with divine intervention our problems will just poof and disappear.
It is the same mindset that has led us to this exact point and it’s the same mindset that will not only duplicate this ruling class, but will in fact bolster a few of them. It’s true. Some political parties will see their government representation grow come next elections, believe it or not. They are so eager for this to happen that they are –in fact- calling for parliamentary elections RIGHT NOW. Their audacity is astounding. After a year of supposed civil unrest, they are eager now, more than before, for elections. They don’t want to wait two more years. They want them to done today. That’s how confident they are of the results. After all, why wouldn’t they be?
Of course, us Lebanese are completely convinced that this political class has failed. But a lot of US Lebanese are still entranced by the spell of our politics. And of course as an entranced supporter, you absolve your own party from responsibility and throw all the blame onto the opposition in typical petty politics fashion.
As for the avant-garde, the ambitious Lebanese, try to imagine what they will do as the elections draw closer, and as the mirage of change begins to fade. If there is no authentic alternative for those people stuck in the middle to believe in, to vote for, what will their natural reaction be? Bet on someone they know nothing about? Or stick to what they know? History shows that it tends to the latter. Granted many of them might abstain from voting altogether. After all, it is Lebanon.
And because it’s Lebanon, and because we are Lebanese, we will blame everyone but ourselves. Thus serving as our own ultimate impediment to change. We acted like revolutionaries yet we neglected the fundamental aspects of any revolution –that it starts within. In the end corruptions thrives in corrupt environments. We love to blame the problems of our society on the very top of the pyramid, and that’s fair, I won’t argue against that. But when was the last time the average Lebanese ever held their own selves responsible? When have they ever refused a Wasta? When did they ever stop at a red light? Not litter on the Corniche? Or for once, practiced what they pretentiously preach?
The answer is never. Because such awareness first requires self-awareness. It requires being humble. And it requires change, which in turn requires hard work, and that just takes too fucking long. So we kick the can down the road, until the world, or God, can cut in and cut us a check.
That’s how we decide, as a people, to solve our problems. Just like with our past elections, and with our upcoming one. We will all, gladly, participate in extending and legitimizing, yet again, this boy band of punk-politicians for another 4 years. And while we waste time bickering amongst ourselves, Lebanon’s future will be a carbon copy of its past. And in 10 years from now you will have to explain to the next generation of fed up Lebanese, just like it was explained to you, why you failed to achieve any difference. Why you didn’t vote. And how during your time, no one in Lebanon even bothered to step up and be the change that they so frantically tweeted about.