We have grown used to criticising just about everything that has to do with or stems from politics. Usually, the criticism is directed not against the cause but almost always against the effects that it generates. Just like we have grown used to believing that the cause of all evil that keeps plaguing the Romanian nation is rooted only in some political figure that is in the midst of performing on the ruling power stage.
I do not even know if I can say that – fortunately or unfortunately – the true source of evil and of all the shortcomings that all of us are experiencing resides solely in one man or a group of people that is in power or has already left this stage and has taken a comfortable seat in the backstage of our memory, as part of one party logo or another, of a political misalliance or union such as those past, present and future, of one moment in the past or the present or of anything else that we can usually identify – by first and last name – on a timeline and on which we can place history’s dunce cap.
In my opinion, the true source of evil resides right at the heart of civil society. More exactly, at that point in which the collective mentality fractures, producing distortions in perception, mentality and, in the end, in decision-making, via “empathic” and consequently anarchic orientation on one side or another of the political spectrum, which translates every time as the only instrument with popular decision-making potential – the vote or its absence.
And this vote, or its physical absence on the voting ballot, is automatically converted – whether we know it or not, or whether we want to accept it or not – into the results we all see and subsequently use as scapegoats: political parties, political leaders, Parliament, Government and the country’s President.
In a nutshell, the country’s entire political structure is due exclusively to us. I repeat, whether we like it or not and whether or not we accept it as a truth as uncomfortable as it is clear and present, a truth from which we should start any reasoning or tendency to criticise or throw the blame on someone else for what is happening to us on account of the politicians and for what today’s Romania has ended up being.
From 1989 to 2017, Romania went through countless moments of transformation, transition, growth, political regression and progression, in a continuous experimenting and exercising of democracy which, every 4 or 5 years, left us more confused, angrier and more disappointed than we had been 5, 10, 15 or 20 years before.
We started to learn with great difficulty the lessons of democracy. I am not saying lesson because, as each of us can easily see and feel, Romanian democracy tried to compress, in just 20-something years, the several hundred years of democratic lessons and progress experienced by countries with tradition that exerted a huge effort in this entire global political paradigm.
However, the paradox of Romanian democracy was and continues to be the fact that we were in the red every time we drew the line and started taking stock.
In the red when it comes to politics and politicians, modern political parties, voter turnout, real economic growth, citizens’ rights and liberties, the accomplishing of important national projects, positive image abroad, money in the pockets of most Romanians, non-discriminatory social strata, inter-social tolerance etc.
Only for us to add now, in 2017, another great shortcoming in this endless stream of shortcomings – the Opposition.
An ever-growing number of Romanians are wondering, justly so, what is the purpose of or need for a political Opposition in Romania?
As long as things seen from street level or from any other position of inferiority toward the rarefied, hermetic and intangible circle or summit of political power and elites look the same and are translated the same way – crass indifference toward the needs of the many, a completely irreverent, populist, demagogical and clueless ostentation toward the truths of the Others, of the many.
The law of social segregation that created the castes and the insurmountable gulf between the few, the powerful, the rich and intangible and the great mass of the many, the poor and the vulnerable during the era of sad memory that ran up until 1989 is imperturbably working today too, almost three decades since that era came to an end.
With the only difference that now it is called democracy, multi-party system and freedom. Ceausescu and his communist dictatorship never needed, not even formally and decoratively, an Opposition. Because the definition of dictatorship is that of a single party and of the all-ruling leader.
Today, however, we have an Opposition. Because we have democracy. And its definition automatically and mandatorily includes the notion of multi-party system, freedom and diversity of opinions, options and possibilities.
However, in the key moments in which the Opposition could and should have gone into action, not solely at the level of declarations, television appearances or false irritations and indignation full of affectation but completely bereft of logic and usefulness for Romanians – such as the moment of the “hiking of incomes” whose eternal first wave firmly includes at first the top of the social pyramid, namely political dignitaries of any rank and of any political stripes, the rest of the social strata being left only with hope and the eternal promise that at some point they will live the day in which each Romanian’s monthly salary would reach a modicum of decency, not to mention an obvious hike – the Opposition did what it has known to do best for decades. It made half-hearted, isolated and null comments or stayed within the same shadow cone – so comfortable and profitable – offered by the rich, privileged and spacious political table.
And examples like these – from which we, Romanians, have not learned anything in the long time that has passed since we kept electing and reaping, voting against someone and for someone else called the Opposition – can go on forever.
Hence, what would be or still is the point of a PNL, USR, PMP, Pro Romania Party (newer), so on and so forth, which call themselves the Opposition and, theoretically – based on the textbook of any authentic democracy – hold the political position from which they should mandatorily “oppose” – in practical, peaceful and particularly politically, economically, socially and legislatively beneficial and productive terms – any action, gesture or initiative on the part of PSD/ALDE, but which, as can be seen, not only do not oppose them or not only lack even a degree of opposability, but rather make us all think they have definitively and irrevocably disappeared from the political arena, remaining somewhere in the memories of those who, almost two years ago, voted for the Right or, in other words, for the Opposition.
For the past three or four years, the Romanian Opposition has become a sort of empty word. A pale ghost that haunts, from time to time, the hallways of Parliament or ends up before a television camera by mistake, almost terrified and almost always completely aloof from the Romanians’ reality, but especially from the reality of its ruling power colleagues, summing-up and justifying its pathetic existence with a lost, nostalgic and declarative party leader such as Ludovic Orban, a veritable Don Quixote, or with Traian Basescu – a party president and eternal political cynic whose fizzy speeches, delivered in Parliament during the extra time so generously offered by Liviu Dragnea and Calin Popescu Tariceanu, sum up his fierce opposing presence in the country’s Legislative to playful jokes made to thrill the parliamentary audience and to maintain his mass-media rating.
Not to mention USR and its ghosts. Meaning the few parliamentarians invited on various television sets in order to remind Romanians that USR nevertheless exists. That USR that unexplainably managed to do in just 6 months’ time what other parties could not manage to do in 28 years. A construct (because it could never be called a party) that appeared almost overnight from the void of the virtual world of Facebook, inflated by and riding the wave of a popular revolt of messianic dimensions, and that rapidly and grotesquely lost itself in the meanders of political concreteness at its first impact with the wall of the PSD/ALDE ruling coalition’s fortress.
However, like the poet put it, what’s a wave will wave away.
Hence, what is still that current and future political Opposition that would be able to generate, if not to guarantee, as is and would be natural, a real observation of and an even more real involvement in the path of the steamroller of the current ruling power that we have all grown sick and tired of but that nobody and nothing seems capable of at least slowing down if not stopping and changing its trajectory?
Romanians have almost completely lost interest in everything political. And this exhaustion of confidence is the fruit of over twenty years of political actions, alliances, unions, misalliances, spats and mending of fences that in the end erased, year after year, in turn, roughly everything situated on the right-hand side of the political spectrum, slowly but surely muddying the identity and dogmatical spectrum to a single colour, trend and result. That of an all-powerful and all-ruling Left Wing.
In other words, the circle has closed where it started 28 years ago.
And the emergence of other parties, such as the last-moment party – Pro Romania, an ad-hoc conglomerate of former, present and future political remnants automatically thrown out by the current ruling power’s vortex, and seeking another umbrella under which they could find shelter, regroup and re-brand themselves, and under which it is warm and comfortable just as it was back in the days when the umbrella was a huge hat brimming with offices, invulnerable allies, money and power –, only serves to reconfirm, once again, if needed, the fragility and illusorily ephemeral character of any hopes related to the existence of a veritable Romanian political Opposition.
Thus, two more years will pass – dotted with a referendum on “the definition of the family” and a Great Union Centenary – before the next electoral start. That of the presidential elections. Time in which Romanians are left to add another huge dilemma to the long list of national and personal rhetorical questions. In fact, the one which we have been carrying for entire generations – for whom do I still vote and why?