Imagine Jesus on the campaign trail
The campaign tide is sweeping across our political spectrum and politicians at all levels are outdoing themselves and each other to win a slot in the hearts of the electorate. Promises for good things to come have started rolling off the tongues of those vying for political office. And when an opportunity for dance presents, the campaigning men and women are often quick to “go down low” or shake a little for “their people”. There is the mudslinging; there is the empty rhetoric and of course voter bribery. Some campaigners- many of them followers of Jesus Christ couldn’t care less about honesty, fairness and integrity. Perhaps Jesus is looking down and feeling pity on his children as they lie, pretend and bribe their way to the high political offices. Perhaps, like a caring parent who directs a straying child, he feels a great urge to come and save them from themselves; to be part of the political campaign and show them how to do it without faking it. I shudder at the prospect of a Jesus on the campaign trail but I relish the thought of this tall, good-looking son of God preaching truth, promising fairness, justice and equality before all. Let your imagination wild for some time and imagine Jesus on the political campaign trail. What would it be like? Being the people person he is Jesus probably would have a huge following.
A Jesus political campaign would make for interesting drama. First the surprise and the shock of his perceived opponents; second the excitement of the million followers, then the celebrity. But the son of God would not be very interested in all this. His ultimate aim is to hold down a decent campaign, to show that it is possible to win souls-even politically without getting nasty about things. Would there be campaign managers for him? A team to mobilise supporters, huge amounts of money to fund his campaign? All this depends on the real purpose of each of these. For instance campaign managers would only serve to organize rallies and not to terrorise opponents, nor to influence the media against competitors. Money would perhaps help facilitate crucial rally activities like transport and Public Address systems but certainly not to bribe poor voters with tiny bars of soap and kilos of sugar; not to pay for favours.
A Jesus campaign would be decent and would thrive on the charisma, honesty and the promise for a life that makes a real difference. A Jesus Campaign would rekindle the true values of leadership that seek to serve and not be served. He has shown it to all through giving himself for the good of humankind; his credibility has thus been confirmed and sealed. A Jesus Campaign would be the embodiment of modesty, using only that which will help him best deliver the message to his people. No convoys. What for? Just a tiny little car to get him to the venue of whatever rally he is to address. No hangers on- because Jesus does not have handouts to give to “abalebeesi”- no need to crowd the streets with carnival- like processions and bringing life to a halt in the process. Just a simple normal drive to deliver the message.
Jesus will have real followers, only those who believe in the substance of his message without expecting to be rewarded with fat checques and other gifts in return. So whoever you see during his rally will not be there to make the numbers. Those that hang around politicians on the campaign trail just to benefit from their bribery and without caring what message the campaigners have- will not want to be part of Jesus’ rally.
Campaign slogans tend to be catchy: Go forward, No Change and things like that. They stink of arrogance, cynicism and cheap popularity gimmicks. Jesus campaign slogans would resonate with the ordinary man. A simple message of Love, unity, care or something like that. Iam the truth the way and the light whoever believes in me shall have life to the fullest. The agnostics might dismiss it as mundane, but the followers will understand the power and resonance such a slogan holds. Why would Jesus need campaign posters? We have his posters everywhere all the time, in church, in our houses in offices. We know his mission and Vision. He needs no touch-ups, no photoshops no airbrushing like we see in most of our campaigners posters and messages. It is interesting how most of our campaigners today claim to want to represent us the common men when all they do is engage in vanity projects all to massage their egos. They claim to represent the common man but usually pay more attention to their needs and their looks. Jesus would concentrate on more essential matters for the electorate. The poor son of a rich father who lacks nothing and has nothing to prove to his electorate other than the fact that he is here to deliver the poor, the disenfranchised, the marginalized and the abused.
Jesus Campaign Manifesto might be predictable. Love for those without, justice for those denied, peace for the restless and forgiveness for your enemies. This means that a Jesus campaign would be devoid of acrimony and violent attacks from his camp. Perhaps his opponents would throw stones at his supporters and taint his otherwise good manifesto to make look bad. But trust this son of God. He will turn the other cheek and pray for his tormentors. He will call on his supporters to do the same thing. “Pray for those who hurt you.” He will stand on the podium in Namboole, raise his index finger and say: “I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.…” This will get him recognition and win him respect from his enemies, perhaps earn him a few more voters. The New Vision’s front page headline the next day will be Jesus shames opponents; turns the other cheek”
That is Jesus on the campaign trail, simple and forgiving. And yet still charismatic, charming even. A Jesus candidate will leave many of his rivals puzzled. How does he do it. No mimicry, no copying will match the Jesus charm in campaigns that are usually characterized by unoriginal ideas, tired rhetoric and recycled jokes.
He will turn up for campaigns in his flowing white Kanzu and red sash, diagonally thrown over his shoulder. Quite convenient for the sometimes hot campaign days, but also simple and a break away from the monotony of campaigners who pile themselves up in sometimes ill-fitting suits; who sweat through netted busuutis like their entire lives depend on it.
Campaign trails are known for deafening dance hall music, Jesus the candidate will most probably not endorse that. Instead he will lead his supporters in praise songs- acapella and without instrument. He will lead them on and they will take over from him- reflective songs, songs of hope and praise, probably followed by thunderous rounds of clapping. Jesus with his knack for feeding huge crowds, would find no problem tending to the culinary needs of the huge crowds that come to listen to him. But again, there will be more to all this than food.
At the end of the day, would it be a landslide for him? It is a strange world, but Jesus with his Charisma, humility and realism will win many hearts, will certainly change minds and the way political campaigns are carried out. He will carry the day for many and perhaps even take political office. PERHAPS. It is a strange world.
And yet winning for him would be more than just garnering the greatest number of votes. Winning for Jesus would be a total turnaround of this thing we call political campaigns. From the way politicians solicit votes to the way they woo voters. In the end he will win over everyone including his opponents. It takes Jesus to pull off that kind of victory. It would set the stage for sober, focused political campaigning. And because Jesus Christ is not the kind of politician that would extend his rule, his example of decent, civilized campaigning would provide many good examples to his successor. That is what we call a true legacy that stretches beyond the sweat-breaking acrimony of political campaigns. It should be our prayer that we see one such campaigner as Jesus if only to turn the tide of our out of control politics.