OK. Imagine this.
You are an opposition minority party, closely aligned with the ‘haves’ in your country and not the ‘have’nots’ so much. In fact, the have-nots that you have in your own voting majority districts are members of a minority but highly influential religious group that has for decades been fighting for independence and a basic modicum of human rights. Over the decades you’re your party has been THE party in the region, basic human rights and overall standard of living has barely improved.
Further, imagine that you really want to get back into power, to act, of course, on the behalf of “the people.” This is all very altruistic of you and yet, despite the tremendous sacrifices you must make for your country, you are nonetheless willing to sacrifice yourself to save the nation, the religion, and the monarchy from some bad guys – who you know ARE bad because they think and act differently than you do, and in addition to that, they even advocate others do likewise.
Continue with your imagination. Imagine not only the above but stir in the fact that you currently belong to, and are senior officials, of your political party and it is basically illegal for you to campaign for the overthrow of the government. What to do?
Now we move from the world of imagination to the world of reality.
A few months ago, experiencing constant defeat and total lack of deference in Parliament, Thailand’s Democrat Party reached some sort of conclusions, not likely to be made public, that something has to be done to get back into power, to right the wrongs and slay the evil dragon of democracy that doesn’t see everything the way we do. So you realize that the only real way to change the system is to leave it, to divest yourself of your political affiliation if in name only and step outside the box to bring down the government. Your basic tool box for doing this in what will bring results that you are pretty confident will work has:
- Resignation from your party. Then you need to use…
- Wide-scale pro-monarchy prejudices.
- The limited but powerful traditional prejudices against Red Shirts.
- Your regional electoral base to help sew discord in the country in other regions.
- Existing discord to coalesce anti-government opinion into a flame you can fan.
- Some serious cash, provided by your party’s bank officials and other financiers to get the campaign rolling.
Your campaign begins with the usual bushel basket full of accolades for the nation’s Triple Gem institutions but is also heavily laced with rhetoric explaining how evil and foreign-influenced, wayward and un-Thai the Red Shirts are and anyone who supports them. You ratchet up the incitement by clearly and frequently accusing Red Shirts and their supporters or sympathizers as insulting and threatening to the monarchy. This is always a good tactic in Thailand and always works. It best works, though, in an environment where the side being accused, in this case Red Shirts and pro-democracy interests are in a very, very precarious minority. And this is part of Thailand’s current quandary – the Red Shirts, and indeed, people who think differently and want different things and believe in things differently are no longer an absolute minority. Like the Arab population of Israel burgeoning out of control pseudo-Red Shirt thinking has taken hold in Thailand and seems not to understand the word ‘No!’ when it’s from the lips of an entrenched manic entourage that likes things the way they used to be and hates the way they might become. So seizing power via what is erroneously called a “People’s Council” appeals to you and that’s what you do.
Incited by all the hate-spewing rhetoric you have been spreading a small portion of the masses who actually believe it fall into step and march with you to the nation’s capital, your “the people” revolt. You make grand speeches, denounce the Evil Empire and announce that you are no longer going to – guess what? – honor the nation’s constitution! And to add insult to injury, you manage to get away with all this. For now.