Political Pathology and Gaslighting:

Political Manipulation and the Assault on the Gambian Mind.

Alagi Yorro Jallow

There is not a 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. But critics say he is an imposter with a gift of ripping yarns. Are Louis’s tales true? Or is he the greatest 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 great convincing skills and the whole world listens and believes him. Is he a Gambian? If so, may be a native of Foni transferring to 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 the 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 told his supporters, then a repeat, former vice president in broad day light  that “ I liberated this country from dictatorship” without blinking her 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 truer now than ever. Human kind 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 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.

We now have clear line between those who favor collective effort in the public interest, and those who are in favor of individual effort 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 issue on coalition 2016 agreement, on the presidential transition tenure, as claimed that the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was never signed? Today, it is found out that there is a signed M o U 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 believed in themselves when they blatantly lied that the MoU was a mere draft not signed by any coalition partner, when today we all know that a signed MoU existed and filed before the Independent Electoral Commission. Does it really 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 can’t enjoy your story, even if it is fiction, unless you believe it. Political pathology and gaslighting:  This are new normal of our politicians.

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? And can we remember politicians who can’t 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, unravelling properties of that statement. Not even his taking refuge in the strong room of “executive privilege” could save Nixon, who was “not a crook,” from being indicted for crooked politics.

And 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 own importance; the lies 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 just 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?

Maybe there is so much stress, so much to worry about that we entertain ourselves with this drama of ‘respecting the coalition 2016 Memorandum of Understanding for Adama Barrow to relinquish power in three years.’ Politicians are great entertainers. Great entertainers are truthful liars. They get us laughing at ourselves as they tell you and I 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 who organized a competition in search of the “greatest liar” in his kingdom? Is this about who can entertain most with mountainous caps, great 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?

Tomorrow, the show continues. And as we wait for the next episode, I advise we get 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 go to ensure that the crown goes truthfully to The Greatest Liar we can produce. He/she should then be the next Coordinating Minister of this regime and system change.

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