I was talking with an acquaintance recently and we were sharing with each other the work that we do. When he learned that Winds of Peace Foundation works in Nicaragua, the conversation immediately focused on politics. “Man,” he said, “talk about a political mess; what do you think will happen?”
I was measured in my response because I don’t pretend to understand politics very well. Who does? But at least I wanted to provide a response.
“Well,” I mused, “the President took office amidst great hope, and I think that citizens had viewed him as a candidate representing earlier times, when the nation seemed more unified than in recent years and under other administrations. It’s too bad that he hasn’t been able to deliver on many of his promises,” I observed, “especially in light of the economy. But maybe the expectations were a little unrealistic, too.”
“The opposition hasn’t seemed to have done much better when they were in power,” he recounted. “They had a ton of ethical issues of their own, and really it was under their terms of leadership that the economic troubles started to bubble up. And now you have all these fragmented parties. If they ever got together maybe they could do something. But it sure seems dysfunctional.”
I thought about the parties and their attempts to attract the electorate: endless signs and TV ads, unlikely promises and unrealistic pledges, pandering to a public that is often uninformed and unmotivated to vote in any direction. “Partly it’s that way because of the voters,” I said. “There is a particularly deep fickleness in most voters that focuses on immediate solutions to long-term problems. Without an equally deep understanding of the issue, most voters are led by the best-sounding promise, however illogical it may be.”
My colleague shook his head, as though reconciled to the seemingly insurmountable difficulties. “I just don’t know if it’s going to get any better. I mean, there seems to be one natural disaster after another. This economic mess has to be devastating. And I hear that some borrowers have decided not to repay their loans, regardless of the fallout. And then this whole intrigue about the government and oil and who’s benefiting from that. How can people just allow that to happen? I’d think they would be protesting all over the place.”
His analysis resonated with me; his questions and observations have crossed my mind a hundred times over recent months and I admit to some sense of satisfaction in hearing those concerns being voiced by someone else.
“I hope Nicaraguans can survive it all,” he offered.
“Nicaragua?” I responded. He had truly caught me off-guard. “I’ve been talking about the United States….”