I can remember hiding from the bullets and bombs in the bathroom with my mom and brother. My father was out trying to earn a living, and the worry that he would not make it home made me sick to my stomach on a daily basis. We lived in hell as militias destroyed this country and its once-strong economy and currency. When we finally escaped, we headed for Canada. Arriving as immigrants, we were graciously welcomed and provided with every right the developed country had to offer. Except one. The most precious right. The right to vote. We were told that only after we proved worthy would that right be granted to us.
The men who literally destroyed this country were somehow entrusted with rebuilding it. They have unequivocally failed. This country is a crumbling mess, when it has the potential to be a regional economic powerhouse. The gross mismanagement is shameful. We have the drive and the talent, what we need now are elected officials who will take immediate action to improve Lebanon’s physical and legal infrastructure.
Take the national approach to cybersecurity, for example. We don’t have laws to protect citizens online, much less laws to enable and nurture business development on the web. Hell, we don’t even have the infrastructure for modern internet connections. Passing laws and investing in infrastructure are low-hanging fruit the people have been begging for over the last ten years. This is simple, but our politicians are deaf. Instead of a booming digital economy, we have broken promises and draft laws ignored by an arguably unconstitutional Parliament.
The failure to find a fair and representative electoral law is unacceptable. I’m sick to death and angry, but sadly, not surprised. In the 1980s, our politicians were combatants who did not respect our right to live. Why would they respect our right to vote 30 years later?
Let’s not lie to ourselves, there is no real opposition to the ruling class in this country. We call ourselves a democracy, but our election results are no different than those in dictatorships. People took to the streets to protest during the garbage crisis in mid-2015. Today, as our most precious right is being stolen AGAIN, the streets are silent.
We must begin to fight back. We deserve a standard of living that is very easily within reach. It will not take a generation to pull us out of the mess we are in, if we take the work seriously. Our problems are very well understood. Solutions are literally on the table. We need parliamentarians willing to work for Lebanon, and no matter which electoral law our princes decide on, we must stand against them.
Stealing back just a few parliamentary seats at a time would be a win. We need unity and focus. We have the ideas as well as the solutions. Let’s make sure our grandchildren do not end up hiding in a bathroom or queuing in an immigration line.