Dear Jan25 people,
So today the results of the referendum came out, and as expected the YES vote won. In case you didn’t expect it, well, there were 4 reasons why that happened:
1) How many Egyptians joined the protests at their peak? The day Mubarak left Office, it was estimated 10-20 million in the streets. What’s 20 million out of 85 million again? 25%? That means there are 65 million who never joined the protests from the beginning, and who probably miss the stability and security of the old regime. 75% that is used to say YES and there is no proof that they changed their mentality or behavior. Never-mind those amongst you who also voted yes for their reasons. I am personally surprised it wasn’t lower.
2) Cairo is not Egypt. This may seem obvious to others, but let me repeat that point again: CAIRO IS NOT EGYPT. Stop your Cairo-is-the-center-of-the-universe chauvinism. 25 million live in Cairo, 60 million live elsewhere. And, let’s be honest, the NO vote people did not manage to get their message across to the people effectively. There was no real TV campaign, no real grassroots campaign and no actual debate. Some individual efforts here and there, but no real coordination. This has to change.
3) The Military & the MB & the Salafis & the NDP were pushing for a YES vote. The Military, as always, just wanted to get out of this mess as quickly as possible, and the YES vote meant just that for them without having to face any real headaches. The rest knew that a YES vote gives them the best chances to win the Parliament and thus re-write the new constitution, and they had the money and the organization and tools to push for it. You didn’t.
4) You no longer represent the people. You really don’t, at least when it comes to their concerns. Your concerns and their concerns are not the same anymore. You care about the revolution, & the arrest of NDP figures & getting the country on the right track. They care about economic security, the return of stability and normalcy the fastest way possible. They only have the military now as the organized force running the country & providing some security, and you are pointing out-correctly, mind you- that the military is detaining your friends and colleagues and torturing them and violating their rights to protests, and you want them to stand up against the military, the only force in the country in their perspective that is keeping Egypt from descending into total chaos. Yeah, that will win them over.
Mind you, this is not totally your fault. There are some things you are just not paying attention to, besides that you have been losing the people steadily. The First of which are the original demands. Remember those? Remember all the millions that went down for the minimum wage and you completely swept this under the rug to engage in a battle with State Security and the military? How many of the original demands have been met so far? Why is this not a bigger issue?
You are also not noticing that the Military doesn’t like you very much, and really, why would it? The Military likes stability, and we started a revolution which brought down a regime that put them first of everyone in the country and instead managed to get them to not only abandon their stable life-style under Mubarak’s rule but to start working harder than they ever had in years. You think they care about you or your demands? You don’t think that they won’t go after every single one of us when the time comes? This is not paranoia..this is simple logic. A force that can bring down a regime can take down the next one or even bring down the military structure itself; why allow that force to continue to exist or have popular support if you can take that away? In case you haven’t noticed, the military only listens when we manage to amass lots of people, and could care less when we only manage to get a couple of thousands. They don’t like you or your ideas, and they cave in when they do in order to maintain stability & their image as the public’s saviors. And you know all those times you keep mentioning that the Military is part of the old regime? Well, they are noticing it, and they don’t like that either. Why wouldn’t they attack you, allow propaganda against you, tell people that you are immoral, armed and/or on drugs, arrest you, beat you or torture you? What’s in it for them if you succeed?
How is any of this a surprise to you?
So, now what? Well, now is the hard part. This is the part where we stop playing revolution, and start playing politics for the sake of the country. This means caring more about perception and public support over righteous and legitimate demands. Do you know what that means? Well, if you do, but think that the revolution must continue on the street, well, congratulations, you are the reason why we are losing. If you don’t, well, please relax and keep an open mind, cause this is about to get really uncomfortable.
1) You have to get over the referendum results now, & see it as the gift it is: Oh yes, we lost, and it’s great news. Why? Well, because first of all, we managed to find out how many people are really with us, and which areas or locations we need to focus on (All of Egypt..Imagine?) and the percentages from those areas. We now have actual statistics, people. We know each district by vote. We know how many people we have in every voting district. We have a nation-wide base. Sure, 20%, is small, but it’s not insignificant, and you can totally build on it. And now you also know what tactics the MB and the Salafists use to mobilize the vote. We now know how they intend to play this, and this gives us an incredible advantage, cause we still didn’t play yet. You wanna start? Congratulate them on the results of the referendum. Call everyone you know who voted yes and enthusiastically congratulate them. Offer to host referendum parties if you can even. Don’t lose them even if you disagree with them. The wall you build now over this could exist come election time, which is when you will really need every vote. In case you didn’t notice, this was just a test-run.
2) You have to focus on the people & their issues, and push yours aside for now: Yes, you will have to address the economy. Yes, you will have to offer constructive solutions to the Police problem that isn;t simply “clean them up”. Yes, you will have to lay off the military criticism and, as horrible and hard as this might be, to put the issue of those who are detained, jailed, tortured or beaten by the military on the back-burner for now. Yes, I know that they are our brothers and sisters, but I also know that this is how they are distracting you. They are making you focus on small battles instead of focusing on the war. How many of us were tried or arrested? 50? 100? 10,000? We are talking about the hearts and minds of about 85 million, and you are not doing shit to win them. Win the public, and all of your friends will be released immediately. Continue to lose the public and you will eventually join them. Simple, really!
3) Offer solutions that appeal to the public and get you support: I know, I know. You would think demanding accountability and the end of corruption would get you all the public support you ever needed, but, nah. They spread lies about you while you are running around trying to find your jailed friends and not responding or engaging back, and whatever goodwill you got for the revolution, well, it’s EGYPT’s revolution now. Everyone has the “January 25″ stickers on their car, which means that your achievement is now their achievement, and thus you get no credit. Ok, start earning credit again. START SELLING THE MINIMUM WAGE for example. In a country where 40% live under 2 $ a day, how is it possible not to get support for a proposal that would guarantee every egyptian 1200 EGP a month, especially in these economically turbulent times? You wanna demonstrate? Demonstrate for the Minimum wage, and many egyptians will join you, thus showing you have public support again. If the Military Council says yes to the minimum wage, Good, you not only gave people freedom, but also got them extra money in their pockets every month, which they LOVE, and as an added bonus you obliterated the myth that you don’t care about the economic hardships of regular Egyptians. That can’t suck. If they refuse, well, that’s good too. It will show that the military doesn’t care for the economic hardship of the poor, while you do , which makes you with the people again. And while they are there all dissapointed at the not-so-benevolent supreme council, you start letting the people know what else they have been up to. You don’t need to lie to manipulate and sway public sentiment to your side, you just got to pick your timing.
4) Start organizing yourselves into an offline grassroots movement, Zenga Zenga style: This one might seem self-evident, but how to do it is the tricky part.
- First of all, find your people all over Egypt, and start registering them and training them. Start with the Polling data alongside those you know through life, facebook or Twitter. You will find them
- Secondly, organize yourselves into different units: The Internet-Unit (to lead efforts on reaching out and organizing the base on the net), the door-to-door Unit ( Go to every neighborhood, knock on 10 apartments and talk to people), the Phone Unit ( Use telemarketing techniques: call people and talk to them about the revolution. Have a training for the phone unit and conversation scenarios. Reach everyone again), the local Media Unit (those are your Intelligence and propaganda arms. They keep you abreast of the news of the areas they are in, let you know who are the people to watch out for and which are the ones to support and they are responsible for catering the media message to the needs of the locals) and the election observers unit (self-explanatory really). The more organized your people are, and the more trained they are in your talking points and counter-arguments, the easier it is for them to sell their ideas to the people.
- Thirdly, Create the coalition of new parties in order to bring in all those new ragtag parties together and make them a cohesive block that could stand a chance in the parliamentary elections by having one party’s members vote for other Parties’ candidates in precincts that they are not running their own candidates in, and they will do the same in return. Every vote counts.
- Last but not least, FUNDRAISE ALL THE TIME. We need the money. The NDP has all the money they stole from the country and the MB has all the money they get from Saudi & Qatar, so we need to get our own. Hit up for donations everyone you know in Egypt who isn’t interested returning the corrupt to power or having this country turn into a theocracy. Contact your relatives and your friends abroad. Create Festivals and events whose tickets will fund your operations. There is no campaign finance legislation in place, which the MB is totally abusing, and we can as well. Let’s do that until we have enough of a majority to place in a law in place that would make this entirely unpleasant situation we currently live in behind us.
5) Start reaching out to Imams and Priests now: I once suggested that we need to reach to Imams and Priests in order to get them on our side, and I was hissed at for wanting to mix Politics with Religion. Well, as much as I agree with that sentiment and truly wish we live in a country where people don’t vote based on religion, ehh..welcome to Egypt. We are religious people, and whether we like it or not, Imams and Priests are community leaders. We have to engage them, get them on our side and have them help us with the hearts and minds of their flock. An easy place to start are the individual churches and the Sufi festivals (Fun Fact of the Day: the Sufis are 16 million in Egypt. I KNOW!), get those two groups, and then focus on all the local imams that are in your area. If you manage to convince 1 Imam in every 5, you already caused them to lose a sizable part of their base. Try to convince 2
6) Know thy enemy: We need to compile a data-base on all the NDP names we know in every district, and then research their history and public record in the parliament. We need to get the history of all the known MB MP’s in the egyptian parliament and find out what bullshit policies they were pursuing during their tenure there. We need to know how popular they are and how much dirt there is on them. We need to know who their financial backers are and what businesses they own. A lot of the info is already available online. Let’s compile it and learn from it. This will be useful later.
7) Prepare for the propaganda war: The other side has already started the Propaganda war over the refrendum, using lies and fear-mongering to get people to vote their way. I am not a fan of lying or fear-mongering, but I have no problem using the truth as a weapon to hammer my agenda home. Tell people the truth: Tell them of the MB’s record in the parliament- how they wanted to ban books and music videos and the net. Tell people what Hamas- the MB of Ghaza- did t the population the moment they seized power (No music, No shisha, no concerts, no free media, intimidation and fear). Start creating banners accusing them of being agents for wanting to sell the country’s soul to the Gulfies, and start asking loudly where their seemingly endless money comes from during this economic crisis. Play on nationalism and national Unity. Joined demonstrations of muslims and christians that congregate in front of the MB Supreme Council’s office, and do a sit in there until they vow to stop using sectarian tones and ads, and when they vow, throw it in their face every time they use a religious slogan. Go After the Salafis as well. If they call you infidels, you call them Taliban. Remind people when they used to throw acid on girls for showing some legs or on their face for not wearing a Niqab. Remind people of the days when they used to target them and kill them, or when they used to crash weddings for being Haram or burn video stores and christian jewelery stores. Keep repeating everywhere you go that Egypt will never be Afghanistan, and people will start repeating that every time they see a Salafi or an MB member trying to use religion to his advantage. Start putting them on the defensive. They are weaker than you think, and the ways to neutralize them are endless.
That’s all for now, but let me remind you of one last thing before you go: You are more powerful than you know. You brought down Mubarak and his regime. You changed this country, gave it a future, and there is no way in hell you will allow those who use people’s ignorance to hijack it. They aimed to scare you yesterday, and instead they pissed you off. They pissed off the smartest, most fearless and most capable group of egyptians this nation ever gave birth to, thinking that you will see beards and yelling and you will run away screaming. They thought wrong. They miscalculated. They fucked up. And they will find that out soon enough. We gave them our hand in friendship, we gave them the benefit of the doubt and we wanted them equal partners in the building of this country’s future, while they were busy plotting against us with the NDP of all people. Well, moral clarity time: The NDP and the Islamists are two faces to the same coin, and neither can be allowed to control this country ever again. It’s time to quit being distracted, and start organizing and engaging people NOW. War has been declared on all of us, and we will be damned if we lose now. Just like the NDP, we will fight them until we can’t.
And in case you are wondering: We will win!