Political Pathology and Gaslighting: Political Manipulation and the Assault on the Gambian Mind

Alagi Yorro Jallow.
Fatoumatta: There is no stir or a whisper when Louis de Rougemont steps onto the stage to recount his astonishing experiences. It is the most amazing story a man ever lived to tell — a breathtaking tale of catastrophe and miraculous events. However, critics say he is an imposter with a gift of ripping yarns. Are Louis’s tales true? Or is he the most terrific liar on earth? Louis is the principal character in Mark Greenwood’s 2012 adventurous book, “The Greatest Liar on Earth.” The character tells his great stories with excellent convincing skills, and the whole world listens and believes him. Is he a Gambian? If so, maybe a native of Foni Bwiam transferring to Pakau in Upper Niumi?
“The Greatest Liar on Earth” could have been written about the Gambia. Here, leaders tell tales about uprightness, truth, and righteousness with twisted tongues of sociopathic and pathological lying. They tell their stories believing that the gullible nation has no choice but to listen. You and I have been following the series compulsive lying on both social and traditional media political leaders and their political hacks on the political campaign terrain on politics of disinformation, misinformation, half-truths, white lies, and propaganda daily. Every political episode presents new yarns to chew on while we wait for the next. Did you enjoy the particular one where the actors and actress swore in the name of the Almighty God that “I saved this country from Yahya Jammeh dictatorship in three months when Gambians tried to remove him in twenty-two years” President Barrow once told his supporters, then a repeat, former vice president and the prominent opposition leader in broad daylight that “I liberated this country from dictatorship” without blinking his eyes to journalists in a media mendacity? Mr. Darboe also claimed that the “coalition and the president campaigned using my name” reason for ousting dictatorship in the Gambia.
Lord Acton’s dictum, “All power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” is more accurate now than ever. Humankind appears to be the only member of the animal kingdom that has the potential for a political opportunist, and we realize that potential with disturbing frequency. Given the psychological makeup of the human-animal, we must assume that there are untold numbers of absolutists in the making among Gambians who will be revealed if and when the opportunity for power arises. The human tendency to lionize political leaders and excuse their excesses encourages them with an endless appetite to lie for fame and glory.
Fatoumatta: We now have a clear line between those who favor collective effort in the public interest and those who prefer individual action for individual self-aggrandizement and compulsive lying to their political base. The far most far, so openly mendacious and pernicious campaign by our politicians is an issue on Coalition 2016 agreement, on the presidential transition tenure, as claimed that the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) ‘Laahidoo’ was never signed? Today, it is found out that there was indeed a signed (MoU) ‘Laahidoo’ for President Barrow to respect the 2016 coalition agreement of three years then relinquish power. As they pronounced every word in their declaration about the MoU, their faces shone and showed they believed themselves. Did they believe in themselves when they blatantly lied that the ‘Laahidoo’ was a mere draft not signed by any coalition partner when today we all know that a signed ‘Laahidoo’ (MoU) existed and was filed before the Independent Electoral Commission? Does it matter where mythomania and pseudologia fantastica is staged in today’s Gambia, where no chamber is sacred or hallowed enough to be saved the shame of profanity? You cannot enjoy your story, even if it is fiction unless you believe it. Political pathology and gaslighting: These are new normals of our politicians.
Fatoumatta: Public office is about belief and believability. America’s first president, George Washington, has as part of his enviable history, a famous declaration: “I can’t tell a lie,” as he confessed, even as a young man, that he had cut a cherry tree — a sin in a society that sanctifies every object of creation. Can you and I remember our president, his party, and repudiated covenants? Moreover, can we remember politicians who cannot be held to account because they “don’t sign documents”? There was another U.S. President, Richard Nixon, with his famous “I am not a crook” declaration before editors of the Associated Press in the early, breaking days of the Watergate Scandal. Every student of investigative journalism can recall the historical, unraveling properties of that statement. However, not even taking refuge in the substantial room of “executive privilege” could save Nixon, who was “not a crook,” from indicting for crooked politics.
Moreover, why would anyone be loud about not ever being a pathological liar? Is it because the politician noticed, like Graham Greene, that a lying changes relation: The man who tells a lie gives away a little of his importance; the lies are once known, he becomes the inferior, like a man who has paid for a woman”? Or could it just be that the self-loathing politician does not want the effectiveness that goes with lying to get elected into high offices? Or should we ask him: what is gaslighting? Is politics not all about gaslighting and lying? What goes on during political campaigns? Do you “mobilize” supporters to “mobilize” voters? Do you campaign with “campaign” materials, including ladies who lubricate the engine of the political machine? What is pathological lying?
Fatoumatta: The bait-and-switch scamming is now worse than ever; it has graduated to a next-level mode. The new “Change Begins with You” campaign has provided the most definitive evidentiary proof yet that the government and the opposition are one giant bait-and-switch scam. Bait-and-switch scams are kinds of confidence tricks where unsuspecting customers/voters are lured into (or “baited” to) attractive, often too-good-to-be-true, offers. Then, once the customers/voters’ interest is sufficiently piqued, sustained, and won over, the terms of the offer change (or “switch”).
President Barrow and some Sosalasso politicians baited Gambian with a promise to “change” the country. After Gambians swallowed the bait and voted them into power, the political class have “switched” and now say the “change” begins with everyday Gambians who voted them into power, not they who promised it. That is straight-up dupery.
So next time overfed, recession-proof, morally bankrupt bureaucrats—or their unthinking automatons— tell you that change begins with you, not the current government that rode to power on the strength of its promise to bring about “change,” tell them they are shameless bait-and-switch scammers!
Fatoumatta: Maybe there is so much stress, so much to worry about, that we entertain ourselves with a drama of ‘respecting the political landlords in today’s political atmosphere, it seems appropriate to talk about the theatre of politics. By theatre, this domestic politics itself has become a threat, a war front. By theatre, politics has become theatre as in passion play. How do we use language and other forms of self-presentation to position ourselves- symbolically, ritually, politically, and in terms of assertions of (moral, social, cultural, religious, economic, or political power) against opponents for the passion play of the current election cycle in the Gambia. Politics as passion play does not contribute positively to coexistence or any sense of commonality beyond the individual’s level and immediate close contacts.
I am afraid that we have yet again moved into a historical moment best characterized by a political theatre of the absurd in which meaning and value are thrown out the window in favor of some third alternative about which no one yet agrees. One hardly needs to be reminded of the veritable whip-lash to which The Gambia public has been subjected in the past few months before the presidential elections of December 4, 2021.
Fatoumatta: Some of our Sosalasso and tangal cheeb Politicians are great entertainers. Great entertainers are truthful liars. They get us laughing at ourselves as they tell you and me that we are not what we are or that they are not what they are. Voters are great spectators. They assess who entertains with the best “truthful lie” among leader-designates and then decide whom to vote in and whom to vote out based on their stage performance. Are we as bored as the Armenian king in folklore? The latter organized a competition searching for the “greatest liar” in his kingdom? Is this about who can entertain most with mountainous caps, extraordinary garments, and drooling yarns about honesty and uprightness? Is this Change all about clean mouths and stinking yansh? Are we ever going to be tired of listening (and believing) refined, inverted truths?
Fatoumatta: Tomorrow, the show continues. Furthermore, as we wait for the next episode, I advise getting the jury ready to do a conscientious grading of the characters. Note the dress, note the shoes. Assess the carriage and the swagger. Do not just listen to the words as they escape; read the lips especially. That is the way to ensure that the crown goes truthfully to The Greatest Liar we can produce. They should then be the next Coordinating Minister of this regime and system change.

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