Sunday, October 13, 2013

None of the above? - the Peter O'Connor commentary

The disillusionment with local politics has been spreading through our society for years, if not decades. 

The occasional skip of a heartbeat, like when you get a hint of promise from a lover who broke your heart, came with the NAR, and then again with the Peoples’ Partnership. But that was all it was—a tease to suit their purpose, not yours, not ours. 

We should have known better of course, but wounded emotions do not create rational thought processes, and as every lover, or voter, should be able to acknowledge, the one who broke your heart will never be true to you again. 

So our disappointments with our attempts to leave the PNM or the UNC have obviously scarred us to the point that some, seeking “ah food to eat”, return sheepishly to the PNM or the UNC, back to the house where we suffered abuse, while the rest of us vow never to vote again, our hurt too deep to try once more.

This column should have been written before the rising tide of Jack Warner’s challenge to all of us! It was meant to be a call to reject them all, and to do so without the pathetic excuse of “I not going there to vote for any of them”. But we will return to that before we close.

We must recognize that Jack’s challenge to the status quo is Jack Warner, not the Independent Labour Party which he formed and leads. Whether he walked or was pushed from the UNC is no longer important. What is important is that he left the Party running, but running to conquer, not to flee. 

That he broke the ethnic stereotype by winning resoundingly without “Party” support in Chaguanas West, should have put the UNC and PNM on notice. But they pretended not to undetrstand. 

Yes he ran on his ILP credential, but it was Jack, and it will be Jack again in coming elections, for whom people will vote. Almost every ILP candidate will be Jack’s proxy. But this is not any different from our traditional Party Politics. 

The Leader is the Party, as it always was in the PNM and in the UNC. Always, that is, until the present dispensations. But we are accustomed to being in the state of “Le Parti; C’est Moi!”, so a maximum leader is something we have always embraced, partly perhaps, because we do not want the responsibility of making decisions about our governance.

But as Jack builds his national candidacy, it is a relief to note that he does not appear to be collecting political discards and tabanca sufferers—at least so far as I can see. And what must be acknowledged is whether you like him or dislike him, Jack Warner is a moving force across our political landscape. 

Shout at him, condemn him or whatever, but accept what is happening: He is challenging not just the UNC and the PNM, but all of us, and all of our institutions. And whether we want to acknowledge it or not, Jack brought something positive to the offices where he had been assigned. 

Both the Ministry of Works in June 2010, and the Ministry of National Security in July 2012 reacted positively, indeed, almost inspirationally to his arrival. And the turnouts at his political meetings are impressive, even if you wish to factor in the “rent-a-crowd” element (also present at UNC and PNM meetings) which might well be there.

In my view, what we (the non PNM and UNC sycophant supporters) need to assess are the “negatives” and the “positives” which Jack will bring to governance. Are the negatives worse than the negatives already entrenched in PNM and UNC governance? And are the positives more meaningful than what we have suffered as governance we have grown to accept? If you decide that the negatives are equal to, or outweigh the negatives of the PNM and the UNC, then you should opt for “None of the above”.

And I promised to tell you how to do this: You go to your polling station on Election Day. You do everything required of you, and then, in the secrecy of the voting booth, you “spoil” your ballot by marking your “X” outside of the places you would have put it if you were voting for a candidate. 

When the votes are counted an officer will announce: “J. Smith (UNC) 150 votes; R. Brown (PNM) 150 votes; S. White (ILP) 150 votes (see how impartially I am presenting this case!); Spoiled Ballots 950! 

And that, from every polling station, will tell the politicians that we want none of them! Are you brave enough to deliberately “spoil” your vote, your ballot paper? No one will know that you did.

But what a powerful message it could send?

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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