For the past few days, I stumbled upon quite a number of people ranting on their Facebook accounts defending President Joko Widodo’s for his presidency and his form so far. While I can scarcely find the content that is overly criticising him, the defending statuses paint a picture on how these supporters are more of a worshiper rather than a supporter.
I don’t want to accuse them of anything, nor do I want to criticise his presidency so far. He has done (so far) quite a reasonable run as a president and I am predicting a trend on which he will continually do so. He’s been okay so far, and until he can fully be free from his affiliation with Megawati and PDI-P or even his coalition supporters, he will continue to do so.
The biggest controversy so far is the retraction of his (recently) signed car-purchase allowance decision. Admitting that he did not read the paper on detail, he signed the paper and authorises the decision. His reason is the lack of warning by his ministries.
Now before I will be able to assess or even begin to discuss this issue, I will need to know his day-to-day activities, his hours, the standard procedure on the office and many other things, of which I do not have access to. As far as I’m concerned, this can be a case of either negligence or him being actually busy.
Despite of whatever that had happened, he actually (for me) did the right thing by retracting the decision. At least he dealt with the problem and not running from it to dodge humiliation that he is getting at the moment. But of course the problem won’t be there at the first place if Jokowi actually read the paper. This can lead to a never-ending argument to be quite frank.
What I want to highlight more, however, is the way that we are supporting (or not supporting) him. It has almost been a year since the election and our Indonesian society still seems to be separated into two sides, with some moved from Jokowi’s side to “the side that is not Jokowi’s”.
Sadly, this is also true in most of other “democratic” countries around the world. The U.S. has to live with the fact that their congress is divided into two and each side will do its utmost to (sort of) destroy the other side. The American Republican most important policy, for example, is doing everything against president Obama’s and the Democrat’s decisions.
Taking it back to the Indonesian context, our “people” seems to do the same thing by worshiping or hating Joko Widodo. Truth of the matter is, Jokowi did make mistakes and he also made some good decisions and actions. A reasonable person would criticise him for his mistakes and praise him for his achievements so that he is encouraged to get some more achievement. However, what we are doing is (when we hate him) to mock him when he has an achievement and to (when we worship him) blatantly defend him for his mistakes.
When we worshipped him, we tend to talk about his previous achievement when he made a mistake and talk about how smart he is and how transparent he is over and over and over again. On the contrary, when we hate him, we constantly talk about his affiliation with Megawati and PDI-P and how he is just being steered by the (so-called) “powerful-lady”.
While we live in a democratic country and is entitled to any opinion that we want, I feel that what we are doing is nothing good to the running of democracy in our society, other than highlighting the line that differentiate the two sides.
Instead, what we could ideally do is to strip ourselves out from whomever it is that we choose at the election or whomever it is that we are support or admire and start to critically engage with what they are doing. We should not let our admiration, support or affection to our public officer affect our critical view of them, because it is actually our job to judge their work, which would later lead to a decision on whether or not we are satisfied with them and whether we want to vote for them or not.
Just imagine the situation where we are judges, judging at a case in which our own son stole a chicken. Of course this would never happen in real life, but ideally if this does happen, we would want the kid to be punished according to the law despite of his relationship with the judge right?
So does Jokowi’s performance, we should judge it based on the fact specific to each issue that he is handling. If he gets some achievement then we should make sure he would do similar thing at other condition by thanking him. But if he made a mistake, we should remind him so that he will not do it again.
The last thing that we should do is to attack each other for endorsing or condemning what he did.
“The strongest democracies flourish from frequent and lively debate, but they endure when people of every background and belief find a way to set aside smaller differences in service of a greater purpose.” – Barrack Obama
A good example is Jaya Suprana’s letter to Ahok reminding him about the risk of doing what he is doing. In this case Ahok has more supporter than hatter, which is why after Jaya Suprana’s open letter was published, there are lots of letters that “attacks” Jaya Suprana’s opinion. While (again) everybody is entitled to have his or her own opinion, what some people is missing out is the fact that we are discussing a social issue here, not a figure. But what some of them instead did were discussing Ahok’s figure instead of what the Issue is and what he should do.
At the end we are the one who gets to decide on who will run the country, and this moment is the perfect time to make those judgements. Not at the campaign, not at the election. We should come to the election well prepared with the information that we get from the previous term of presidency (or in other government position as well).
Because after the election, it is not about being on the one or the other side anymore, it is about how we as a unit can make sure that the leader that we have chosen do the right thing and to learn as a unit what kind of leader we need for the next term.
“The sides are being divided now. It’s very obvious. So if you’re on the other side of the fence, you’re suddenly anti-American. Its breeding fear of being on the wrong side. Democracy’s a very fragile thing. You have to take care of democracy. As soon as you stop being responsible to it and allow it to turn into scare tactics, it’s no longer democracy, is it? It’s something else. It may be an inch away from totalitarianism.” – Sam Shepard