In the past political scientists often referred to the art of political campaigning as ‘shoe leather politics’ because candidates wore out the soles of their shoes walking the streets to speak with voters. Today, though, we have a new ‘shoe leather politics’ that is taking the place of ideas and constructive dialogue.
Back in August we saw a media circus erupt when a fool in London threw his shoe at President Zardari. Today we read that Pervez Musharraf received the same treatment over the past weekend, again in London.
According to TV channel reports, Musharraf was speaking about his rule when a man, followed by another, hurled shoes at him which did not hit him. The men were raising slogans in favour of Dr Aafia Siddiqi. The guards overpowered the two and took them out of the hall.
It should be noted that the man who threw his shoe at Musharraf is suspected of having links to al-Muhajirun, a banned Islamist group. When a shoe was thrown at Zardari during last August, it was during protests organized by another Islamist group, Hizb-ut Tahrir.
And this is where we see the real problem with these made for media theatrics: they are a poor excuse for not having any ideas. No amount of shoes will improve economic growth, eliminate militancy, or heal relations with our neighbors. Solutions for these issues can only be found in honest assessment of the facts and reasoned dialogue with ourselves and others. Groups like al-Muhajirun, Hizb-ut Tahrir, and Jamaat-ud Dawa don’t have any answers to the nation’s problems. This is why they attempt to substitute circus acts.
Whether you agree or disagree with Musharraf, Zardari, or anyone else, you should be able to explain yourself with words and ideas. Resorting to shoe throwing only demonstrates that you have nothing to add to the conversation.