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Fiona Snyckers interviews Eusebius McKaiser on GBAS

In another Sunday Morning Pajama Flash Festival, author, Fiona Snyckers, interviewed Author, Journalist, radio personality and political analyst, Eusebius Mckaiser, about his book Could I Vote DA.
It was a hugely popular interview that went on for hours after it officially ended with members throwing questions, thoughts and opinions into the mix:



‪Fiona Snyckers: Welcome Eusebius and thanks for agreeing to be interviewed. ‘Could I Vote DA’ is primarily a work of political journalism, but I noticed that there is a lot of you in the book too. Your childhood, the community you grew up in, your sexuality, your schooldays, your family and siblings. Was this because, as you say, ‘politics is personal’? Indeed, in your discussion of DA MP Ian Ollis you say that politics may even be more personal than sex. Did this influence your decision to bring your personal slant to the book?




‪Eusebius Mckaiser : Good morning all and thanks for inviting me. In fact I’m very chuffed to be a member now and looking forward to being active going forward.


On the first question, “Yes, times 100!”

Politics is deeply personal the world over. And in particular so here in South Africa.

A book about who to vote for cannot be detached from my biography.

It touches ME.

As a human being with a real personal history.

It’s not an exercise in abstract thought.



‪Fiona Snyckers: Yes, that comes across continually in the book. And what about the gap that you perceive between ‘perfect logic’ and ‘persuasion’? In talking about your formal training and experience as a debater, you discuss the realisation you eventually came to that it is not enough to bludgeon the listener with logic. You need to ‘steal their hearts’. Could that also be why you chose to make the book more personal and not simply a political tract?




‪Eusebius Mckaiser: Spot-on ‪Fiona Snyckers and a HUGE, and avoidable, communicative weakness the DA makes too often. Still.
To recall from the book: As a national & world masters debate champ I could show off with formal logic on a white board what is logically invalid about racism or homophobia. How many new gay rights champions or non-racists will leave the room after my logical dazzling?

Few.

Or I can use stories, testify, speak personally, from the heart, etc.

It’s not either or.

You mix up these tools.

But in the DA is there is a slavish obsession with data-driven communication.

That is where the disconnect comes with many black African voters.

Don’t show me spreadsheets about clean audits.

Talk to me. Have tea with me. Empathise with me. Emote with me.

Similarly I’ve stopped showing off logic in relation to homophobia and simply talk from the heart how k*k it is when you look at me and my boyfriend.

Well…when I had one!



‪Fiona Snyckers: I have been following the progress of the book on social media and I noticed something interesting. Several black intellectuals have expressed nervousness about reading it and a ‘fear of being converted’. Many, I think, believe that it is an argument in favour of voting DA and are afraid of being persuaded because you are known to be highly persuasive. But the book is not that at all, is it? You are not preaching for the DA. If anything, you are skewering with an extremely sharp blade the DA’s rather blundering attempts to increase its black voter base. Shall we reassure our comrades on social media that you are not in fact the Jehovah’s Witness of the DA knocking on their doors on Sunday mornings?




‪Eusebius Mckaiser: Hahaha

Hahaha

Thank you.

Alas ‪Fiona Snyckers voters are like supporters of football clubs —- experts in confirmation bias.

My book will not be the last – nor is it the first – to be reviewed by many without reading it.

Some didn’t even bother judging it by the cover!

No. It’s not an Ode to the DA.
Equally though I think the DA was shocked to be taken so seriously eg my exposition on liberalism or my, uhm, Ode to Tony Leon!



‪Fiona Snyckers: Writers often have an audience in mind while they are writing – a kind of imaginary readership that they are addressing their remarks to. Who was your intended audience for this book? Was it the undecided voter? Or was it actually addressed to the DA – as an exposition of what they have done right and wrong so far, and what they need to do going forward to broaden their voter base in a meaningful manner? At times it seemed to me to be the latter.



‪Eusebius Mckaiser: Thanks for that question. Tough one actually. Seriously.

I think we should debate this separately on this page as a NORMATIVE question for authors.

For now here’s a truncated honest quicky: If I lived in New York I would not be writing in this chatty style.

This goes for both my books.

I’d write for a reader who belongs to this book club – authors themselves, ferocious readers, educated, progressive, already engaged, etc.

I’d write, you know, “award winning craft” hahaha.

But ‪Louise Grantham my publisher and I are committed to IDEAS being my strength to share with the widest possible audience.

Like my radio listeners. Undergraduates. First time book buyers.

The caveat is this: I do NOT compromise on the granularity of argument.

But tonally and stylistically I use devices – like a simple register and stories – to reach the largest audience possible.

I don’t care about the DA.

I care, actually, about the average Joe.

Or the average Xolani. As it were.

Even if the Sunday Times Literary Awards team doesn’t



‪Fiona Snyckers: The Mail & Guardian came out this week with its first explicit directive to voters in years. It asked us to vote strategically against the ANC simply for the purpose of diluting its majority. It doesn’t matter whom we vote for, the M&G implied, merely that we vote to teach the ANC a lesson. What do you think of this strategy? It seems to me to be negative and reactive, rather than an expression of positive choice, but perhaps it has some merit after all?




‪Eusebius Mckaiser: The M&G was not brave. They were being cowardly, upon reflection.
That editorial reads like a leaked internal letter from a disgruntled elder – call him Ronnie Kasrils – to ANC branches that got leaked to the media.
It was too qualified — 50% of the space spent summarising the amazing history of the ANC, justifying the call to not vote ANC with a complex principle – ‘dilute power’ and never giving a positive ideological alternative.

They should have simply said: STOP ANC!

Or:

VOTE DA!

Why didn’t they? Fear of losing state advertising so hoping the ANC won’t be TOO offended by a torturous qualification of their editorial.

True media freedom would be a paper bluntly saying, ‘Vote DA!’



‪Fiona Snyckers: I am intrigued to know how your book has been received in DA circles; particularly the part that takes the DA to task for not having in place a genuine mentoring programme to encourage young black leaders who do not come from Model C or private school backgrounds. Your discussion of Makashule Gana and the invisible glass ceiling struck home with particular force. Have you had any indication that your words are being taken seriously, and could perhaps result in change?




‪Eusebius Mckaiser: Helen Zille blocking me on Twitter must be a sign that the book hit a nerve, surely ‪Fiona Snyckers?

And her fabulously chilled husband and I had a great chat about whether she’s a closeted liberal or not when he came to my book launch, and asked me to sign a copy for her, reassuring me that many of the debates -eg liberalism’s compatibility with ubuntu- happen in the DA.

I promise you if I shared WhatsApp messages, DM messages, sms messages and inbox messages from Facebook from many DA MPs, communication team members, youth leaders, etc, you’d have the evidence of an affirmative answer.

The party has huge potential.

They must just stop being tone deaf and pick some low hanging fruit after the election.

Starting with ditching Helen.


Fiona Snyckers: Your book was put to bed in approximately October of last year, correct? At that time, Mamphela Ramphele had recently announced the formation of Agang, but you state quite explicitly that discussions about her joining the DA were still ongoing. You also warn that this would be a huge mistake for all concerned. The truth of this was borne out this year by the fiasco that was Dr Ramphele announcing her intention to stand as the DA’s presidential candidate only to revoke it the next day. How destructive do you think this event was to opposition politics in South Africa in general and the the DA in particular?


To read the rest of the interview, join The Good Book Appreciation Society on Facebook by emailing goodbookappreciation@yahoo.com

To buy Eusebius’ book (Which is a must-read by the way) click here.

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To buy Fiona's books (which are hugely popular) click here:
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