Monday, January 28, 2013

Guest commentary: Winning at all costs leaves you nought

Not even Juliana Peña’s crystal ball could have predicted the redwash! The PNM has snatched victory from JAW, is how I'd put it...providing I concede “the truth” to be falsity espoused by many who know ought to know better -that TOP's rout is attributable to “the interference of an outsider" named “Jack Austin Warner”. 

But, did JAW really snatch defeat from the jaws of TOP's victory? 

The THA 2013 election has left redshirts exhilarated and the wider population bewildered.The need to understand what went down on January 21st 2013 is therefore paramount, moreso as redshirts have exhibited a queer knack of remaining in the spotlight too long after the sun is risen. 

Allow me to present a few points to reduce their risk of being sunburnt. The order in which they are laid out isn't significant, so chew on them while keeping that in mind.

In the first place, Tobago voters went against the worldwide trend of communities cementing or strengthening their pragmatic cross-border ties: they voted against the idea of Trinidadian "involvement" in Tobago's life. 

Such clannish behaviour only occurs when some fundamental threat to group survival is perceived. (Note, “perceived”!) It matters not whether the threat is real, once the person reporting the threat has enough credibility or, as in this case, affinity, gullible persons will immediately gobble up the falsehood, opening the gate for the Gossiper Effect to do the rest.

Given the heightened awareness which precedes and pervades any hotly-contested election campaign, honest and dishonest platform statements are disseminated willy-nilly. In turn, this leads or misleads voters and non-voters to understand at will, or misunderstand at will, remember at will, or forget at will, why the election was called in the first place. 

Thus, unlike in the first THA election (November 24th 1980), when it rightfully was "Ah we boy!" against a spiteful Central Government, the 2013 poll was an unjustified (hence, perverted) T20match-up of "London-Hilton Defenders" versus the "Calcutta Night Raiders".

Secondly, arising paradoxically from the first point, with the help of the mainstream media, the prizewinners managed to deflect voter focus by inserting an issue wholly irrelevant to the election and turning that issue into the main topic. 

The THA is the statutorily-created vehicle of Tobago's internal self-governance, instead of the election being an evaluation of the performance of the outgoing THA administration, it mutated into a referendum on the performance of a Central Government which, unlike its predecessor, has displayed genuine commitment to giving Tobagonians greater control of Tobago.

Thirdly, the victors were unafraid of invoking "serious" elder-pressure on the first-time voters (particularly the female youths). Just as in Trinidad (northeast Trinidad particularly), many of Tobago's young voters are still very financially dependent upon and or emotionally dominated by their elders. 

Verifiable reports indicate young first-timers were cowed into believing their immediate future would be humiliating if the outgoing administration wasn’t returned to power. All media houses gushed about the extraordinarily high youth turnout, especially of females, without investigating why.

Fourthly, the THA 2013 election was the first ever where the very influential voice or presence of A.N.R. Robinson was not witnessed. Nature abhors a too, do election campaigns. With no word from A.N.R., a general assumption that A.N.R.’s pro-PNM position remained intact rushed in to fill the void with telling anti-TOP effect.

Fifthly, the norm with popularly-elected administrations is for the midpoint of the term to be the lowest on the popularity index. Midterm is always a rut for popularly-elected governments. Those which don’t have the traction to get out of it get stuck and defeated. 

The "Midterm Blues" has afflicted the likes of Indira Gandhi, Rohilala Mandela, Pierre Trudeau, Margaret Thatcher, David Cameron and Barack Obama, none of whom are losers by any stretch of the imagination.

All in all, the TOP and the PP have no cause to cry or fear concerning their showing in the THA election of 2013. Very powerful factors ensured the PNM would win...which brings me to the last point.

With every election since 1956, the PNM has demonstrated it'd do or say anything to win or regain power: jiggling of boundaries, voting machines, targetted blackouts during vote counts...anything! 

The 2013 THA election was no different: race-baiting featured prominently, bringing Tobago for a long while dangerously close to what Alabama was for Afro-Americans before Rosa Parks said, "I'm not yielding my seat!"

The PNM knew full well the precipice was looming, hence its rushed attempts to "Indianise" itself immediately after the election results were declared. Such belated cosmetics by the PNM confirm those who win at all costs are left with nought. 

Time shall tell if apologies prompted by makeover consultants would undo the damage already done.

© Richard Wm. Thomas,
5 Rivers, Arouca,
Trinidad and Tobago

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai