What do to when your own government calls you “evil?”
This is what Zoran Zaev, the current prime minister of Macedonia and head of his leftist-socialist party, SDSM (formerly, the League of Communists of Macedonia prior to 1991) said about those voters in Macedonia who voted for the opposition in the first round of local elections.
Here’s what he actually said in a Facebook post on Monday, October 18: “Citizens sent a message and we must listen to that message, understand and act on it. The people want to see better results, but the evil threatens from the opposite. We are the fight against evil. All of us, each of us.”
Zoran Zaev apparently believes those who voted for the opposition parties and candidates are evil.
This is not entirely new behavior for Zoran Zaev. He has said essentially the same thing about those Macedonians who opposed — and still oppose — the so-called Prespa agreement or the agreement with Bulgaria. He really doesn’t like those who oppose him or his plans and policies for Macedonia. It is either his way, or, well, the gulag, if he could get away with it.
On Monday he made another statement about the “evil” opposition and those who voted for it and then on Tuesday, October 19, Zaev hit yet another low when he said, in part: “It’s time to unite because against us are the same thugs and criminals who are destroying our country for years… They say that, for the evil to triumph, it’s enough for the good people to say nothing. This time, we won’t observe and do nothing while the evil threatens us. We will act.”
The quote he was grasping for has been attributed to Edmund Burke, Irish-Anglo statesman, author, and man considered to be the father of the modern-day conservative movement. That quote is “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,” and in turn comes from an attributable Burkean quote, “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”
The larger point is this: Zaev claimed: first, that his side is “good,” second, that the opposition and those who voted for them are “evil,” and third, that if his “good” side stayed at home and did not vote in the second round, then the opposition and their supporters, the “evil” side, would triumph, leading to the “triumph of evil.”
What Zaev misses here is the fact that a whole lot of people — from many sides, including, perhaps, his own side given the numbers — did something, used their voices and their votes, and tried to stop the evil of his plans and policies from triumphing.
Notice the difference in what I just wrote? Zaev called individuals “evil,” and I called his plans and policies “evil.”
So, back to my question: what do you do when your own government calls you “evil?” What do you do when your own government demonizes over 400,000 people in one fell swoop? The answer should be obvious: remove them from office at the ballot box. And in the meantime, ridicule them (they hate being made fun of).
Zaev’s statements have made people angry, and rightfully so. Understanding human nature, it will also make people motivated to turn out and vote for people better than Zoran Zaev, better than his party, SDSM, better than his current crop of mayors and councils.
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.
The people are voting for VMRO-DPMNE, giving them their votes and their trust, as they take back the cities. The people are fed up with the corruption, the lying, the excuses, the antics, the lack of real, tangible progress in their daily lives, and more.
Their first order of business, once the second round is concluded and they actually take office, is to fulfil their obligations as mayors and councilmembers by addressing and answering the local — and very much real — needs of their constituencies to the extent they have control over them: the daily and practical matters of life such as water, sewer, roads, garbage pickup, and more — all of the competencies that mayors and local governments are called to address and deal with.
If these mayors and councils address those issues first, and do a good job (and I think they will), they will build trust with their communities, those who voted for them, and maybe even those who did not vote for them. As they build trust, they will build authority. And as they build authority, they will be building for the next parliamentary elections which I hope VMRO-DPMNE wins, and wins decisively.
And once that happens Macedonia can, hopefully, begin rebuilding and reclaiming what is rightly, Macedonian. Timing is important. Remember the words from the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes, chapter three: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”
Right now, it is time to take back these vital local offices, rebuild, and improve the lives of all citizens across the country.