Laughing at Zoran Zaev
National Review writer and author Charles C. W. Cooke makes a good point in his column about US President Joe Biden becoming a joke. Cooke writes “Joe Biden is a joke. I do not mean this as a sharp criticism, but quite literally. Joe Biden is a meme. He is a punchline. He is a source of mirth and amusement. Worse still, he is the subject of a series of jokes with which the apolitical and disengaged have become casually familiar.” Cooke quotes Shakespeare writing “They laugh that win,” and then adds his own thoughts: “And they who are laughed at, lose.”
Many Macedonians are angry at Zoran Zaev and his SDSM party for all of the wrongs they have committed and harm they have done to Macedonia and to Macedonians. But many are just looking at Zoran Zaev as a joke, and, like Cooke’s reference, literally a joke: the cartoons, the memes, the punchlines, the source of mirth and amusement.
Granted it is not just Zaev; many of his ministers have memes in a starring role as well. This past week, it was his justice minister, Bojan Maricic, who gave many people much laughter.
This is fatal to a politician. Once you become the butt of the joke, the show is all but over.
As Macedonians prepare to go to vote in the second round of local elections on Sunday, October 31, many Macedonians will be carrying these thoughts with them, some laughing all the way to the voting station.
There are, of course, many reasons to punish Zaev and his SDSM party at the polls: the continuing lies, the many scandals, the blatant corruption, the poor economy, the continuing attempt to change Macedonia’s history, his wholesale sell-out of Macedonia’s name and identity, and much, much more.
Let me turn, briefly, back to Zaev’s campaign comment that the opposition and those who vote for the opposition are “evil,” which received a great deal of push back from voters left, right, and critically, center. As I wrote last week, “This is an important point to understand: when a politician makes a comment like that calling the opposition ‘evil,’ then, sure, your own side might like it. But it makes the opposition both angry and motivated. And for that crucial block of voters including the ‘don’t knows’ and ‘not sures’ who can often be the decision makers, it’s a critical factor.”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn reminds us that the line dividing good and evil runs not through institutions or organizations, but right through the heart of every single individual. We can all exhibit good behavior and bad behavior. Each of us as individuals can act in evil ways; we can also act in ways that are saintly. We are all capable of doing good things and bad things often throughout each and every day.
But, as many pointed out after Zaev’s initial comments, when a politician resorts to calling an entire class of people “evil” because of who are they voting for, then you know that politician has lost the plot and in all likelihood, the election. Zaev has no more arguments on why anyone should vote for him other than his assertion that the other side is “evil.”
So for Zaev and his SDSM party, one part of the population is now laughing at him and his comrades, believing them to be a literal joke. Again, that’s fatal. Another part of the population knows he has lost the plot and has no more arguments left on why anyone should vote for him or his party. That’s fatal as well. For the sake of Macedonia and the future, let’s hope both of those hold.