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Five Ways To Improve Romania (Why The Elections Don't Really Matter)

I don't write during the weekend (or at least, I don't publish) and by the time Monday comes around, we'll most likely have a good idea of Sunday's parliamentary election results. They won't be the official, 100%, definitive results because the losing party will claim fraud and the winning party will also claim fraud. After an official 'investigation' the winning party will be declared the winning party and the losers will continue their whining. Like the fake promises, the outcome is also scripted, I guess I just happened to get an advance copy.

Let's be serious. The only winners will be the hobos who get a seat in Parliament. The newly elected Deputati (MPs) will be very interested in making the country better -for themselves and for their friends. Maybe amongst them are a handful of young idealists, I don't know who they are, but I wish them well. Instead of going on and on about how selfish, short-sighted, and spineless our politicians are, I'll make a list of the high-level changes I'd like to see in the next four years.

1. Identify Leaders -  A popular slogan in Romania these days has been "I don't have anyone to vote for." The situation is so pathetic that there isn't even a lesser evil to speak of. Everyone who will vote on Sunday is essentially throwing their vote away.
Let's identify, support, and grow civic leaders for the next election. Let's promote people who work hard in their communities, who are involved in grassroots efforts, and who truly care about this country. Maybe they don't want to be in politics, but let's convince them that they should be. I'm thinking of teachers who inspire, business owners who are examples of efficiency, people -even students - who can galvanize others into action through their passion for a worthy cause. We should take example from these people but we should also encourage them to become involved in official positions where possible. These are the kind of people who deserve our official votes so that when the next election comes around, we can at least have options.

"Who can I vote for?"
2. Get Involved - I can't stress this enough, but you have to get involved. No matter how dirty it feels, no matter how exasperating it is to deal with the bureaucracy, it has to be done. Attend town-hall meetings, contact your city councillors and your Deputy when you have concerns, organize community events if nobody else is doing it. You can complain as much as you want, but if there's a hole in the sidewalk for years and nobody, including yourself, ever reports it, why would you expect it to ever get fixed? Become familiar with the people representing you at local and federal level and hold them accountable; preferably by dialogue, but at the very least next time when you have the opportunity to vote them out of office. It takes some effort, but Democracy is a two way street.

3. Stop Hating - I'm technically doing it myself. I just called pretty much every parliamentary candidate a crook even though there must be one or two decent people in the bunch. The point I'm trying to make though is that we need to stop being so damn cynical about everyone who is trying to do something positive. Sometimes people really deserve it. If somebody drives a BMW it doesn't mean he's a thief. If somebody owns a business it doesn't mean he's a schmecher. If somebody has a good job, it doesn't mean their dad hooked it up. If somebody says they want to do something special, don't tell them that they can't. There's nothing stopping you from getting a good job if you deserve it, from opening your own business if you have a good idea and the drive and passion for it, and once you've done that, you can ride in a Rolls-Royce if you want, you'll definitely think you deserve it.

4. Network - Networking doesn't mean exchanging business cards randomly. A few days ago I got an email from a friend. CCd was a third party, somebody I didn't know but to whom he wanted to introduce me thinking there was a good potential for collaboration between us. He didn't email me because he wanted something, he emailed because he was trying to help two other people. That's beautiful. There are so many good people I meet here that I'm absolutely astounded that when it comes to our politics we don't have an abundance of good options, let alone one. I believe that part of the reason for this is we don't network with the intent to help each other by making connections between like minded people. If networking is effective, then over time relationships are made where there are mutual benefits all around. That's why we began ResetRomania.

5. Help each other - A lot of people say that during communism people were more helpful with each other. We were all in the same boat and therefore more willing to lend a helping hand to neighbours or even to strangers. I don't quite buy that, if anything changed it's the times. People used to hitchhike in America well into the 70s and then...serial killer stories got popular. I still think people here are helpful but it's easy to fall into the trap of individuality where it's every man for himself. Technically this ties in to everything above. We just need to recognize when others need our help and support, we need to encourage people, to nurture talent and skills, and most importantly we need to understand that as long as we're split into the camps that the politicians create, we're weak and we'll stay weak.

That's it. It's not a lot, but these are thing that would help this country tremendously and they have nothing to do with the 'winners' in Parliament, but with you and I. Of course, if the government does want to pitch in by implementing some lower level changes from my 15-point plan, then it can only get better.

EDIT: The elections have come and gone and the results aren't much of a surprise, though I have to admit I expected more whining from the losers. The result wasn't close enough to warrant that sort of outcry in the end, but when it comes down to it, it's still about all of us stepping up and doing our part. I'd like to be sound hopeful, but if the election turnout is anything to go by, no big changes to come any time soon. Then again, if the low turnout (43%) indicates a complete rejection of the entire political class, and if this is replaced by individual initiative and the desire to be a catalyst for change, we're going to see improvements sooner rather than later.


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