Jakarta is a place that I hold dear. This is the metropolitan city where I was born, where I grew up, and today, where I live. It is a city whose history I learn since childhood, a capital city whose name I memorized first as I held my first globe, likely the first city that I could spell by name when I was younger.
Today, the city turns its page to a new page, and it is all murky.
The quick count results of today’s gubernatorial election runoff have been published by major media sources, and the candidate that I did not choose are in the pole position. Not by a slim margin that I predicted (around 2-3%), but instead all the way to 15-16%. That much.
Don’t get me wrong, though. It is not because that candidate is winning. No, in a typical election, even if my candidate lose, should the winner offer better policies, programs, and promises, regardless of whether I am in favor of the candidate or not, then so be it. They will be worthy winners.
The winning candidate are winners. I think no question up to now. But my problem is not on the winning. My problem is on how the victory was attained.
It should have been simple. If you see a candidate pair that is known to be transparent, anti-corruption, cleans up the bureaucracy, manages the government budget with rigor, and has delivered many of them, should have been the winner. Even better, if you know the candidate wins a high approval and popularity rating, there should be no question.
And even more so, if the candidate pair is not supported by groups perceived to be intolerant (even looking anti-tolerance), supporting thuggery and bigotry, you should be voting for this pair.
The matter of fact, though, only around 40% of the voters are picking this very pair.
As I try to absorb this fact, I try to ponder, should human beings be rational in making their choices? I cannot say that the fact that I just see is a reasonable thing to happen. Instead, it is completely irrational, and with good explanation as well: You should always choose a better candidate to govern (heck, he is to be appointed governor, for crying out loud!), not to be someone’s friend or ally. The governor’s job is to govern, to administer, and your well-being as a citizen may be determined by whether you have a good government official or not.
Of course, different people has different way of understanding what is rational, but I think there are certain things that people should take as a universal rationality, such as the point I made above. How can you not pick someone that has delivered the goods for the past few years?
To make it worse, the main reason used to counter the candidate’s good governance? Something primordial. Religion.
I sincerely feel bad and saddened for the believers of all religions, particularly those who see it clearly, that religions are being played as nothing more than toys to achieve banal desires. To make it worse, this religious thing is then coupled by an Orwellian doublethink (to rephrase Orwell’s doublespeak), that is, you can like someone, but still not liking the individual, and in this case, simply because the individual does not share the same faith as you are.
I am really gutted that now the supporters of these kinds of thinking can feel vindicated. Well, we are going the right way, because we win today. This is the thing that I am feeling really afraid of.
Initially, I thought the city’s people knew better, and would not be baited easily by this kind of issue. People should have known, I thought. If you really lived in the city, you would have seen the improvements that the governor has done for the past years. From prevention of flood, infrastructure development, cleaning-up of breaucracy, and many more. People should have known.
Today, I am proven wrong. The storm was way too strong. The candidate that I supported has faced some of the most unfair campaign issues any candidate has ever seen anywhere in the world. More than the accusation that Obama was not an American-born. More than allegation that Clinton was going to use the White House for her own benefit. More than many other such smears.
Following the quick count results, I am saying goodbye to reason for now. I am saddened not merely by the fact that my candidate did not win the election. I am saddened by how can the election’s result changes my life, changes our common way of life. With intolerance being utilized during the campaign, how will our common minorities live safely and without being afraid that we can all wake up in the morning feeling safe?
I am also saying a very slow goodbye to pluralism. For countries who are praising Indonesia for being an example of religious pluralism, this is a good time to think; starting from Vice President Pence, who is coming to Indonesia tomorrow. The threat is way more than real now. Honestly, any candidate, of any political office, that uses intolerance and radicalism to back its campaign, should never be allowed to run for any candidacy.
This country, however, chose to keep the candidate, and carried this candidate to the top seat.
I am closing this reflection with a prayer. Last Good Friday, I was thinking of the prayer in the Garden of Getshemane, “Not my will, o Lord, but yours only.” I think in defeat, the current governor finds a bit of serenity and calmness. “Who can extend his life just for one armslength by worrying?” The candidate, ever so gracious in defeat, said, “Do not be saddened. The position is the Lord’s, and the Lord will take it (as he pleases).”
Under the storm of defeat after crumbling defeat over the pillars that made this country great, I am praying the same thing.
To the losing candidate, I cannot say enough thank you. We are not worthy enough of having you, a kind and loyal servant of the people, never seen before, to govern and administer this city. For the next six months, we will keep on praying that you will finish well, and that you will keep your faith intact. Whatever faith that we share, I do believe, that God (or the Supreme Deity) never sleeps. He is keeping the world that a good ending can be seen. Better places are being prepared for you, and again, I cannot thank you enough. As a beneficiary of your kind administration, I will be eternally grateful.
For the winning candidate, congratulations. While you are celebrating, listen back to your conscience, and think of what you really believe in. Do you think embracing all the things that are against this country’s values is the only way to go forward? Even when I questioned your programs and plans, please remember that you will become a leader for everyone, not just for your supporters. I wish you the biggest of luck, and may the light of God always shine in your administration.
Life must continue, anyway. We will come to the office tomorrow, seeing a new day, but a new history page is also turned. We cannot see what may happen in the future, but let us all hope that this will bring the best of us, instead of turning us into the worst we can ever be.
May God continue to bless this country that we all love. We are all Indonesians.
Disclaimer: This is my personal opinion and does not represent, or shall not be construed as representing, of any organization that I am affiliated with.