In hard times, new blood wins the day

07 August 2016 - 02:03 By Ron Derby

The anti-incumbency ticket has always been used with varying degrees of success. In times of economic prosperity it's a ticket that's unlikely to yield much success. Wartime presidents tend to survive such campaigns; it's the only way one can explain George W Bush's second term.But in an environment where the citizenry feel poorer, and that's regardless of whether one has a job or not, the anti-incumbency ticket can yield great dividends.The political gains made by both the EFF and the DA were primarily based on the notion that they are not the ANC and, more important, aren't led by a certain Jacob Zuma.With predictions of economic growth as low as 0% this year, it was always a winning ticket. Even the "dab" couldn't better the incumbent's prospects.story_article_left1Think of DA campaigns of old, Tony Leon's "Fight Back" that yielded no dividends and in fact weakened the party. At the time, the ruling party was sitting on a gold mine, the super commodity cycle.South Africans of all hues felt financially secure and, through transformative policies, an emergent black middle class was deaf to any such message.It was a lapse in ANC judgment to think a change in the global environment wouldn't affect their standing in places such as the Eastern Cape, a source of much of the labour on the once prosperous mines. There was the seeming indifference to Marikana, perhaps it's biggest failing in the almost decade-long rule of its president.In trying to place this in the context of a globe beset by troubling political developments, the cold winds chilling the ruling party are not out of place. We are suffering the political hangover from a financial crash that afflicted the world eight years ago.The biggest of all political stages, the build-up to the US elections in November, best captures feelings about the status quo. Let's forget Donald Trump for a second and his emergence in a Republican Party that has long lost its relevance and look into the popularity of Bernie Sanders in the contest for the Democratic presidential nomination.While he may have lost, there's much in his campaign that feels true about our polls and the British vote to leave the EU a couple of months ago.Of the campaign, I like what French economist Thomas Piketty wrote earlier in the year: "Much of America is tired of rising inequality and these so-called political changes, and intends to revive both a progressive agenda and the American tradition of egalitarianism.story_article_right2Hillary Clinton, who fought to the left of Barack Obama in 2008 on topics such as health insurance, appears today as if she is defending the status quo, just another heiress of the Reagan-Clinton-Obama political regime."Piketty, famed for his 2013 book Capital in the Twenty-First Century , predicts that someone like Bernie will one day win the White House. The more things remain the same, I tend to agree.Another Bernie will emerge for what's still the most powerful seat in world politics. China, with its rising middle class, will one day face a similar challenge.In South Africa, the elected elites with the insta-bling lifestyles face the same challenge. For a party whose fundamental cause is the equality of all men, the ANC has lost its way. Renewal is the only message the party can now sell to regain credibility; its chosen messenger is just as important.Not many in the ANC can sell egalitarianism, a seemingly fading belief that all humans are equal in worth or social status.E-mail or find him on twitter @ronderby..

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