Rev Jesse Jackson has run for president of the United States, twice but did not even manage to win the Democratic Party nomination that would have seen him go beyond the preliminaries. By Kenyan political standards the man "ameanguka mara mbili" (has failed twice) and is therefore a failure. However on closer examination this is very far from the truth.
In actual fact what has happened is the Rev Jackson has pushed many of his ideas forward through other candidates as a result of his two memorable campaigns. Most notably through former President Bill Clinton. Jackson has also managed to draw a lot of attention to civil right causes. The net result is that the quality of life for blacks in America has improved dramatically through initiatives that trace their origin directly to Jackson and his civil rights cause.
In Kenya, we have this big problem that if you stand for high office and you have no chance of winning, then you are just wasting time. This is one of the reasons why so many young people are frightened to run for any political seat and yet they will be the first to complain loudly about how bad our current leadership is.
Part of the problem of course is that election campaigns in Kenya have never been run on issues. No candidates seem to have a solid cause. Instead violence, intimidation and name-calling have ruled the day. One can get a clear glimpse of this from the some of the comments that we regularly receive in this site. But then hopefully, things are slowly changing and one day soon, issues will rule campaigns.
The 2007 general elections would be a good place to start.
The sad thing is that we have so many skilled professionals out there that have a track record of integrity and should clearly stand either for a parliamentary seat or even the highest office in the land. Sadly it has never crossed the minds of many of them that they can use their corporate skills and transfer them to the political arena with good results. This would also be an excellent way of drawing attention to certain pressing issues and causes and chances are high that the winning presidential candidate (some of these presidential candidates have never had an original idea of their own since the swinging sixties) will adopt some of their better ideas for the general good of the country.
We urgently need to change our style of politics.
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