By the Tibetan Association of Northern California
The campaign for the 2011 Kalon Tripa and Chithue elections has swept the nascent Tibetan democracy in exile through historic and uncharted waters. Election campaigns that were sedate affairs in the recent past perked up dramatically as if injected with massive dose of steroids. We witnessed a level of energy, exuburence, color and chatter more associated with the barnstorming campaigns of US Presidential elections or the neta lobbying for votes in the towns and villages of India. We had debates galore and surrogates trying to outdo each other. The Tibetan qualities of noncommital and demure were replaced by a can do spirit and confidence that was both bracing and infectiously refreshing. The times caught up with the community and modern political campaign tools like websites, blogs, video messages and other social mediums were effectively employed by all the candidates. Average Tibetans who rarely had access or interaction with candidates suddenly found themselves being solicited either by the candidates or their surrogates. Candidates logged thousand of miles and traveled through dozens of time zones as they sought to cover every large and small Tibetan community. Watchdog sites sprang up and cast a new and often harsh level of scrutiny on the candidates, their experience and qualifications. The scrutiny and analysis is a welcome development towards bringing about greater accountability and transparency. However, these watchdog sites also risk becoming a sandbox for slanging match and in the process diminishing both the candidates and the offices they run for. We saw a fair amount of mud slinging as well particularly in the Kalon Tripa race, but to the credit of the candidates there hasn’t been any instance of candidates attacking each other. It would be an understatement to say that running for Katri and Chithue elections will never be the same again. Future candidates would be well advised to start sharpening their public speaking and debating skills. They better not have any skeletons in their closet either. Hopefully, these changes we have witnessed for races to the higher echelons of power in our community will percolate down to community grass roots level as well. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we saw the same energy and zeal for elections to fill board and committee positions within our Tibetan Associations for instance?
The historic campaigning of the 2011 elections will soon come to an end. Tibetans residing in North America and those who have registered to vote in the March 20th elections will get to elect a Kalon Trip of his/her choice and two representatives to the 15th Assembly of the Tibetan People’s Deputies (Chithue). Please make informed choices and do not be influenced by the opinion or pressure of others. In order to facilitate your selection, we have listed a video from each of the candidates along with their websites which provides more information on the candidate’s background and their position on issues. Most of all don’t forget to vote on the 20th. Remember every vote matters. Lastly, regardless of which candidate wins let’s congratulate all those who ran and quickly reunite behind the elected. We can only have one Kalon Tripa and let’s give him (hopefully a ‘her’ next time around) our maximum support. He will need all the support we can give!