The following dialogue is an almost verbatim excerpt of what has been going on lately at the Sunday lunch table of the Christian families I’m associated with. The names have been altered – albeit they still retain a “Christian” flavor but I promise it’s not for Sectarian reasons – except my own.
Georges: You know, they said they might postpone the elections.
Mary: Better. Nothing good can come out of it.
Elie: Makes sense seeing as we don’t have a law yet.
Joseph: There is one. The Orthodox Law.
Elie: What about the Orthodox Law?
Joseph: It’s supposed to make our votes weightier. How the hell does Hariri get a parliament member in Achrafieh and the LF don’t? Or how can’t the LF choose MPs across Lebanon like Aoun does without Hariri hoarding their backs?
Georges: Yes. And those imbeciles with the Future Movement have the decency to call us unpatriotic. As if they are the patriotic ones for not supporting the Orthodox law only because their man Hariri doesn’t.
Joseph: Yeah and they’ve always been in bed with the Syrians screwing us. They’re ones to talk about patriotism. Their leader got blown up? Have we had a leader who hasn’t been threatened in this country?
Georges: Hariri doesn’t even have the decency to stand up against Al Assir. And he has the nerves to call on the LF for trying to distance themselves from his sinking ship.
Joseph: He doesn’t even have the money anymore. Looks like Saudi Arabia may not be in with him on this one.
Georges: Saudi Arabia is busy drawing caricatures about the patriarch while they go fuck Christians every day. What a country of retards. Fuck them and their prophet.
Elie: Enough with religious crap. How would you feel if someone insulted your Christ?
Joseph: Whatever. Anyway, I’m with the Orthodox Law. It allows us to stick it to Aoun.
Elie: There are other laws which do that and allow the LF to have more weight without being this crappy. Besides, why would you want to vote for the MP of Keserwan or anywhere else exactly? Betdallak ghrib.
Georges: How does the Orthodox Law work exactly? We vote for the Maronites of Batroun only?
Mary: I don’t understand why you must have this discussion every week. Is it gonna be this way until election day?
Elie: You go into the voting place. The person in charge gives you a ballot paper with all the lists running for your sect’s MPs. You choose one of the lists then you pick an MP to give him or her your preferential vote. So we vote for the Maronites of Lebanon. All 34 of them.
Peter: How will I explain this process to my mother exactly? I’m not sure if I understand it.
Mary: the more complex these laws become, the more I think all these elections are useless. The same people are gonna win any way.
Joseph: I know how I’m voting.
Georges: Yeah, me too.
Elie: If the law stays the same and we remain a one district place, I’m most probably not voting for Antoine Zahra. I’m sure as hell not voting for Boutros Harb and definitely not for Gebran Bassil.
Georges: Are you fucking serious? Please tell me you’re joking.
Elie: Not at all.
Joseph: Leave him be. He’ll change his mind soon. Elie not voting for Antoine Zahra? And pigs fly.
Elie: Why would I vote for Antoine Zahra exactly? What has he done that should make me eternally grateful for him that he should get my vote and stay and MP for the 3rd time?
Georges: He’s not Gebran Bassil!
Elie: I’m not voting for Gebran Bassil.
Joseph: Not voting for Zahra is you not caring enough. If other people thought like you, Bassil would win.
Peter: Why would anyone give a shit? My family has been supportive of Boutros Harb ever since he entered parliament in 1972. And what good did that do us? I never asked anything of him. Never. Except when I wanted to provide my son who studied law with a job. I begged him and he promised he’d help but he didn’t. I held it in and I voted for him in 2009 because I couldn’t stand the idea of Bassil winning. I was happy when Harb won because Bassil didn’t win. But my son is now working a dead-end job with no prospects. I would never admit this to a Aounist of course. Screw them.
Elie: I understand but an MP’s job isn’t exactly to provide jobs for those who ask for it. He should have helped. But what has he done in the past 23 years that should get me to vote for him? Nothing!
Georges: the highway!
Joseph: Yes, the highway.
Elie: the highway that has been in the works for 40 years? The one which was started near Tannourine because that makes perfect sense? No, thanks.
Georges: As long as there’s something called Michel Aoun roaming the Earth, I will vote against him.
Elie: What about the economy? The roads? Electricity? Telecom?
Joseph: Oh shut up. You’re almost becoming Aounist these days with liking Sehanoui. Do you fancy that unibrow?
Elie: The man does a good job. I cannot not acknowledge it. Besides, why would you not care about the economy and security in voting? Do you fancy almost every one my age leaving the country or considering leaving it?
Georges: Really? Assume I won’t be voting for the LF because you don’t like them these days. Mesh 3ejebne bel marra 3a fekra. Who am I supposed to vote for? Those third party leftists who have no chance of winning?
Elie: I don’t know. But voting for someone because you want the other to lose doesn’t work for me.
Joseph: It does for me. As long as Gebran Bassil never ever becomes a parliament member, I’m happy.
Georges: I concur. I couldn’t have been happier when he lost in 2009.
Elie: Gebran Bassil isn’t winning in Batroun no matter how I vote. At least I’d rather vote in a way that doesn’t make me feel disgusted with myself for the years afterwards.
Joseph: What if he wins?
Elie: Really? How is that possible exactly? Where will he get his votes? Do you want me to get you the 2009 results for you to see how impossible that is? Let’s not pretend that a lot of people in the district are thinking like me at the moment. Kellna 3ashra.
Georges: Yeah, 10 is more than enough of your kind for now. We can’t let them win and run the country. We can’t allow it. Michel Aoun wants to get that Orthodox Law to pass so he becomes president next year, you know that?
Joseph: Yes, that’s true. He wants to become president.
Peter: Michel Aoun president? Hell no. If that law passes, I’m voting for the LF without blinking. I can’t allow it!
I expect this discussion or some variants of it to be taking place every Sunday when the family is gathered for lunch or any other festivity for that matter until elections are over. I’m sure that the same discussion is taking place in other households which are different from mine politically in more or less the same way. Everyone is talking elections these days. So why not make what people say behind closed doors public? It beats beating around the bush in pretending as if things will change.
I only had to see a pollster in action in my hometown to see exactly how few things have really changed and how much the circumstances had.