Before the ballot

Disappointment may be in your future, but that shouldn’t stop you from knowing your candidate

March 29, 2019 04:27 pm | Updated 04:27 pm IST

deepak harichandan

deepak harichandan

There comes a time in our lives when we must step off that treadmill of life called the rat race and participate in something that will truly benefit all around us, as also the generations to come. I’m talking about shutting down your Instagram account. The verbose intro was meant to be a reference to elections and how it is our duty to vote. It is also our responsibility to vote for the right person, which is why I am here today to educate y’all on a few things to watch out for.

The Primary Caveat: There is no ideal candidate. Make your peace with this absolute statement first, it is the primary and only caveat of democracy. The idea is to arrive at a suitable suitor for your vote through the process of elimination; just strike them off your list for the crimes, felonies and other charges that stand pending against them, in order of most to least vile, and the last man standing is your guy, or gal.

What-aboutism: A common way to misdirect blame for Mr X is to try and bring up a similar misdemeanour that was possibly (or allegedly) conducted by the competitor Mr Y and to question redressal for that act before Mr X can be tried for it.

Straw Man: This is a tricky one so stay with me. Let’s say Mr X proposes an argument ‘A’ and Mr Y, instead of opposing it, instead presents an argument ‘B’ which sounds like ‘A’ but isn’t really it. Then, Mr Y shoots down argument ‘B’ and thereby declares self winner as having shot down Mr X’s original ‘A’ argument. Complicated, right? Well, the idea is that instead of fighting the real issue, when a person erects a fictitious one (called a Straw Man) and then takes it down to clay ‘victory’, it is called shooting down a straw man. Tricky politicos deploy this tactic frequently and it can be a slippery one to catch.

Ad Absurdum: No this is not a spell from Harry Potter, but it very well could be. If someone said that letting Magan write a column in a paper today is dangerous, for if that can happen then what’s stopping them from letting monkeys have a column too, I’d argue that they were arguing ad absurdum. That said, I’d nevertheless ensure that them darned monkeys don’t get access to any typewriters, ever! Politicians sing this refrain every time a law proposes easing up things on alcohol distribution, section 377, or other similar personal choices. Strangely enough, they banned e-cigarettes while letting pan masala and regular cigarettes prevail, thereby signalling who really fuels the party funds.

Red Herring: A bit like #2, politicians when cornered with a question will often deflect the question by changing the subject. In India, almost everything can be blamed on our neighbours.

There are so many other tactics — TINA (there is no alternative), Tu Quoque (you also), MSU (making stuff up aka fake news) — deployed ever so often in every debate that is televised, every speech they make, it feels that the politicians know us to be emotionally-charged imbeciles with no sense of logic and hence can be toyed with easily. So, as our five-yearly civic duty date approaches, please keep an open mind and listen keenly to the arguments before you cast that ballot.

In the end, try and not be too disappointed about whoever comes to power because, just like with ordering food from a restaurant that was rated high on Zomato, deep inside you knew all along that it was all contrived to begin with.

This column is for anyone who gives an existential toss.

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