Anger should not inform our pick in Tuesday's poll

Stephen Jackson, Vimal Shah and Chacha Nyaigoti verify security features on ballot boxes. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

The Azimio versus Kenya Kwanza verbal tussles instead of articulating issues have become increasingly unsettling. Remarks by Deputy President William Ruto asking President Uhuru Kenyatta not to kill his children are in bad taste and should not be taken lightly.

The safety of every Kenyan should not be put into jeopardy. But again, could they be just rumblings of a man under siege? Ever since his underwhelming one-man presidential debate, Ruto has been swinging the bat. Given that he has been trailing in opinion polls, I guess this has been his way of getting back on track.

Many expected a big reveal moment which could change the tide or even sway undecided voters. As his grip on the reins of what he now calls deep state began to ebb away, a feat he enjoyed before the 2018 handshake, Ruto has been blaming institutions out to frustrate his ambition. In fact, he said the government that he deputises loathes him so much that the killings in Baringo, West Pokot, Elgeyo Marakwet and Samburu are meant to punish him.

But it is Ruto’s anger that has caught my attention. Such kind of ire has a peculiar potential in a young democracy like ours. When proficiently positioned, it cuts through to the bone marrow of popular politics like the bottom-up model being sold by his team.

It plays to the underlying passions of the ‘disenfranchised masses’ with the gospel of us vs them. The fury DP breathes down on real and perceived adversaries is hard to refute using principles. It grips the attention and buzz with a deafening sound bite on social media.   

I am a Kenyan living in US. I have lived through politics of anger under Donald Trump’s administration, and I would not wish it on my country of birth. Kenyans must resist politics of outrage because each belligerent posturing and flare-up denies them a meaningful discourse.

If allowed to gain traction and a following, it sets a dangerous trajectory that brands opponents as foes. Emotions are rising every day; one just has to look at social media. With talks of past killings and insinuations of other lives that are in danger, it behoves leaders across the divide that their sentiments, flared by their ambitions must not lead to loss of lives.

For the rest of the citizens, our checkered past courtesy of political polarisation ought to be a barrel of experience from which we draw lessons. It is our patriotic duty not to sink low as to kowtow to their anger and intimidation. Regardless of your political affiliation, cast your vote on D-day and head home. That is your salient role. 

Kenya needs more than a new manager but an entirely different form of management. Although we agree in placing resources in the hands of those who have been deprived for eons, a radical usurping kind of leadership that promises to bundle others to their countryside and run others out of town is not the panacea. 

-Dr Oyoo is a businessman in Texas

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