#45: Can we change Kenya’s voting patterns?

Our 45th prompt comes from Mo. They ask:

Is it possible to change the views of this our country with regards to information and voting patterns? Seeing as to how we keep voting in the same dumbasses each time.

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Mo,

Most of us think we decide who to vote for through a fairly rational process. Which is probably why many candidates in the 2017 election cycle are participating in debates and writing manifestos that summarize their who, what, why, when, where and how. So that folks who decide to vote for them can point to these documents as the reason. “She said she’d tarmac all the roads!” or, “He said he’d give all our children laptops!” But is this how we actually make our voting decisions? No.

What we think is a rational/conscious process tends to be very irrational/subconscious, many times influenced by fear. The more negative/frightening things we hear about a candidate, the likelier we are to not vote for her. And because of this fear, we tend to look for that which is most comforting. That which looks like us. That which will cause the least possible disruption to the status quo. So perhaps a man from your community that has been endorsed by the elders. A man who claims to be godly and go to church/the mosque. One who promises to shake things up, but not in a radical way.

The demographic influences us much more than the logical. That way, if a woman, a queer person, an ethnic minority is running…you will find a reason to be averse to them. Even though when you query this reason, it won’t make sense. Then you’ll attribute it to a gut feeling, and say how your gut is rarely wrong and has saved you from multiple near-death situations. Then there’s how you’re feeling that day. Many stories have come out from countries around the world about how people changed their minds at the voting booth based on how they were feeling. After all, you can do what you want and lie about it afterwards, there are no witnesses.

However, we can’t ignore the fact that what you hear/see/experience leading up to an election can sway your leanings. Therefore, media does affect your voting behaviour. The way media choose to cover an issue, the angle they choose, as well as the stories they choose to cover can change the outcome of an election. Media is very powerful. Which leads us to the fact that they can’t pretend to be unbiased. Because by choosing a certain angle, they create bias in their audience against other angles, or against the people they cover unfavourably. Which leads us to this: each side must use media (both traditional and social/new) to galvanize their contingents, and to try as much as possible to convert the opponent’s audience to their side.

This is not a quick or straightforward process. It requires careful planning and patience. However, the sooner we accept that media plays a huge role (and thus cannot claim to be unbiased) and begin to plan how to use it to galvanize our contingents, the better. If we want Kenyans to stop thinking in a tribal/ethnic fashion, our media (both traditional and new) must stop covering politics in this fashion. We must change how we cover things if we want to see a difference in our voting patterns.

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This post is part of a daily writing experiment that I’m running for a year. I’d love it if you took part! 🙂

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