Anura vs Dilith: When President-Hope Goes Rough

When Donald Trump, a businessman-turned-politician, entered the political arena, none of his opponents, including Hillary Clinton, shied away from the debate stage.

2 mins read
President-Hope Anura Kumara Dissanayaka in US

Editorial

In democratic traditions, the importance of open debate has been a constant thread woven throughout history. Ancient sources, ranging from the Greek agora to the Roman Forum, underscore the fundamental role of discourse in shaping the destiny of nations. The recent refusal by President-hope Anura Kumara Dissanayaka to engage in a debate with businessman Dilith Jayaweera not only challenges contemporary democratic norms but also strays from the timeless wisdom embedded in the roots of democratic governance.

Drawing inspiration from the very cradle of democracy, the Athenian agora serves as an instructive example. In Ancient Greece, citizens gathered in the agora to engage in spirited debates about the policies and direction of the city-state. Prominent philosophers like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle championed the idea that the free exchange of ideas was integral to the health of a democratic society. It was through open dialogue that citizens could scrutinize their leaders and foster an environment conducive to the flourishing of democratic values.

Similarly, the Roman Republic, in its heyday, recognized the importance of public discourse in the Forum Romanum. The statesmen of Rome, from Cicero to Cato the Younger, understood that engaging in debates was not a sign of weakness but a testament to one’s commitment to the principles of the Republic. The res publica thrived when citizens actively participated in discussions, challenging their leaders to articulate and defend their policies.

Anura Kumara Dissanayaka’s dismissal of Dilith Jayaweera’s invitation on the grounds of his perceived insignificance echoes a departure from these ancient principles. In the annals of democratic history, leaders were not judged solely on their past political experience but on their ability to articulate a vision and engage with diverse perspectives. Refusing to debate with a challenger based on their perceived stature is a departure from the democratic ideals that have withstood the test of time.

Anura Kumara Dissanayaka, an admirer of the American political system, should take a cue from the very democracy he holds in high regard. The American Ambassador’s efforts to integrate Dissanayaka and his political party into the U.S. political landscape were not in vain. The cornerstone of American democracy is the spirited tradition of open debates. Take federal papers for instance. Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay engaged in a series of public debates through these papers, presenting their arguments to the citizens. The wisdom of these framers of the U.S. Constitution lies in their understanding that robust debates foster an informed electorate and contribute to the strength of democratic institutions. When Donald Trump, a businessman-turned-politician, entered the political arena, none of his opponents, including Hillary Clinton, shied away from the debate stage.

In the American political ethos, politicians do not dismiss challengers based on their previous political experience or lack thereof. Instead, they embrace the opportunity to engage in intellectual combat, allowing voters to witness firsthand the strength of their ideas and convictions. Refusing to debate, especially on the grounds that the challenger is “small,” is a feeble excuse that has no place in a vibrant and functioning democracy.

President-Hope Anura Kumara Dissanayaka’s reluctance to engage in a public debate is not merely a contemporary concern but a deviation from the enduring principles of democracy that have been passed down through the ages. Ancient sources remind us that open debate is the lifeblood of democratic governance, and leaders who shy away from it undermine the very essence of the democratic experiment. As citizens, we must uphold the traditions of our forebears and insist on leaders who are willing to engage in open dialogue, recognizing that the strength of a democracy lies in the vibrancy of its public discourse.

Dilith Jayaweera is a Sri Lankan corporate leader, a leading entrepreneur and the leading partner of an ultra-nationalist media outfit [ Photo Credit: Dilith Jayaweera]

Sri Lanka Guardian

The Sri Lanka Guardian is an online web portal founded in August 2007 by a group of concerned Sri Lankan citizens including journalists, activists, academics and retired civil servants. We are independent and non-profit. Email: editor@slguardian.org

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