Politics of Insults: Who is to Blame – by Jerome Kuseh

Last week the MP for Asokwa, Hon. Maxwell Kofi Jumah, suggested that politics of insults is a deliberate ploy by politicians to rouse grass root support. Speaking on Peace FM’s flagship programme, Kokrokoo, Hon. Jumah said that as a politician, he does not farm or sew, and therefore his livelihood is dependent on what he says.
His rather candid submission gave me a novel insight into the world of Ghanaian politics. It is paradoxical that as we keep on condemning politics of insults, insulting politicians are becoming more popular. They seem to be able to attract large numbers of party faithful who keep psyching them up to insult even more. The media seems to also like such politicians, as no matter what they spew, they are always in high demand by media houses seeking to increase their ratings. It seems the controversy generated by such politicians increases the number of viewers and listeners.
I have a theory. Politicians, especially of the 21st Century, are becoming celebrities. Perhaps we do not expect them to be ordinary, we need something different from them, something of ‘shock value’. Looking around the world of entertainment, musicians and actors rely less and less on talent and more on scandal and controversy to keep themselves from fading into obscurity. It’s true that not all of these things attract voters, especially moderates and non-aligned voters, but it seems to be effective in moving people up the ladder within their own political parties.
So maybe politicians are not to blame. Maybe the blame should be laid on the listeners of programmes with insults. We cannot task the media to invite issue-based politicians when we are not ready to listen and debate on issues. Perhaps the blame should be laid on a large uneducated populace, who are deprived of the ability to understand above basic issues.
Maybe I’m being too lenient on our politicians. Maybe they should be more responsible. Maybe. But politicians have to do what they have to do to ‘chop’. If we as responsible citizens cannot criticise our politicians fairly, if we are one-sided in our condemnation, if we are most interested in listening to politicians who insult and media houses that promote such insults, then we cannot point our fingers while our hands are dirty.