In the past, I’d care more about getting the scoop and being the first to jump into a story. These days though, I realize that the more prudent thing to do is to observe for a bit and form an opinion and position when things become clearer, intentions become known and the circumstances almost inevitable.

Even if I’m a bit late to the party, here is my formal endorsement of Beirut Madinati’s campaign to win the Beirut municipal elections on the 8th of May, 2016.

Last Year’s Civil Unrest

  • “They’re not organized”
  • “There’s too many demands”
  • “The demands are too little”
  • “Why are they just focusing on the garbage? What about the president? Electricity?”
  • “Why are they focusing on other things instead of just the garbage?”

Those are the most common (and contradicting) comments I’ve heard in every discussion about last year’s protests. It is a classic case of damned if you do, damn if you don’t.

A hallmark of any attempts at a powerful grassroots movement in Lebanon’s recent history.

For me though, those comments were lazy and not taking into consideration how remarkable what was happening was.

After the coma grassroots sentiments were in for decades, they were suddenly back, diverse and plentiful. All we needed to do is add a little time, a pinch of pragmatism and a sprinkle of hope.

Almost 9 months since the unrest began, the Beirut Madinati campaign has signaled the shift in Lebanon’s civil society from demands on the streets, to elected office with a clear agenda and full transparency.

We Still Think We’re The “Youngest”

I still feel as part of the “youngest generation” in Lebanon. That the officer at the checkpoint is definitely older than me, when in fact I’m now probably 6 or 7 years older than him. That running for elections or voting is just an exam question in civics class. That people like us being elected to office is somewhere in the distant future, not the foreseeable one.

But, that’s no longer true for many early 90s kids like myself, who have NEVER voted but have become an integral part of Lebanon’s businesses, banks, hospitals, military and every other institution in Lebanon.

Well-established lawyers, engineers, scientists, architects, entrepreneurs, designers, musicians, journalists, analysts, consultants and academics. So, if you still remember those civics class lessons, at 25, you can run for office, and be appointed to a senior governmental position.

A Real Chance

Personally, my concern was that we were demanding our fair and urgent rights, but we were demanding them from the people who forced us onto the streets with their decades of corrupt and incompetent (and seemingly never-ending) reign.

How can we ask the crooks (mafia leaders) clinging to their seats to fix a problem they are the core of?

My second concern was that we did not always have a clear-cut solution we could all stand behind. That is normal in grassroots, largely leaderless movements.

We are taxpayers, not lawmakers and cabinet ministers. It’s not our job to find the appropriate solution, but it is our job to pressure and monitor the government’s institutions to make sure that they do find that solution.

Beirut Madinati has addressed both those concerns quite clearly. They are offering an alternative to the current status quo with a gender-balanced, independent and diverse group of Beirutis committed to utmost transparency and support from first time voters.

The younger generation that is less sectarian and politically polarized, and more pragmatic and tolerant.

They also put out a 40-page detailed program of what they’ll do when elected to office, and a shorter 10-point summary for you lazy bums who don’t wanna read the whole program. Their FAQ page is also a good read, especially on the weird dynamic between the Beirut municipality and Beirut’s governor.

From now till the 8th of May, I will be regularly posting about the election campaign on the ground, as well as helping make the case for Beirut Madinati.

If you want to contribute or volunteer, please do as soon as possible. There are already 2000 volunteers and the campaign needs all the support it can get in the run-up to the elections! Also, like their page on Facebook, follow them on Instagram and Twitter. Make sure to check out their epic videos too.

They also hold weekly open houses at their offices in Badaro, and many other events which you can find on their Facebook page.

There’s a fundraiser at Bardo tonight too! See you guys there!

Note: The youth movements got bolder once they realized that pro-bono lawyers will Not leave any incarcerated demonstrator behind.