Let’s assume from the outset that being illiterate means you don’t know how to read, not that you lack common sense. Let’s assume that before the printing press hit the scene in the 1400s, human beings had figured out that, say, being a priest and being a merchant required different skillsets.
I’ve just read the umpteenth U.S. article about Wyclef Jean, which suggests he has a good chance of becoming president. He might. I just haven’t come across any convincing evidence that a large swath of the Haitian population thinks about Jean nearly as much as his American counterparts do. Key words: large swath. Please tell me in comments if I am wrong.
The Wyclef hype seems American media-made. The hype also presumes that Wyclef, a musician with no experience in running a company or in politics, is a shoe-in because the Haitian population is largely illiterate and predominantly under-30. Since when did illiteracy and youth mean the loss of all powers of discernment?
I’m not so much interested in Wyclef as in observers’ opinions of the Haitian public. Yes, illiteracy presents a host of problems for any population but one of them is not the inability to discern the minimum experience necessary to run a country. Is it not fair to assume that the Haitian public knows that whomever occupies the National Palace needs to be able to hold his own, not just on stage but also, in a private room with the likes of their business elite as well as rainmakers like former US president Bill Clinton? Serious question. If it isn’t explain why so.
I’m not one to trust any electorate. I’m coming off a decade of George W. Bush who got into office not once but twice. I understand however, based on evidence, why Americans voted for him. I don’t yet see credible evidence, at least in American coverage, of which way the Haitian voting public is likely to swing, if and why they’re enamored of Wyclef or even what they want from their next president.
And on a personal, skeptical note: I’m also wary of the fact that there’s no polling of the Haitian public. Instead, reporting relies heavily on man-on-the-street interviews as well as expert opinion without sufficient explanation of who these people are or their past political affiliations–in a country with highly partisan and violent politics. So I find myself reading a lot but coming away with no useful information, no clearer understanding of what’s happening on the ground.
Maybe it’s just me.