Their impious fidelity demands that saying anything against the government requires balance– like for every bad that is said a good should be cited and a comparison to what the ejected government did should be made.
But this is real life politics – not a literature class in which those who voted for better governance are expected to identify an antagonist and protagonist.
The perception now is that governing has been subcontracted to a level of ineptitude which uses the performance of the previous government as its benchmark.
…..and no one seems to be telling this Coalition Administration that this is not a feasible course of political pursuit.
When politicians have to demand a comparative juxtaposition of ‘worsts’, that foretells an anxiety, a palpable fear, that says they are losing the comparison on the merits.
Having to forage for victory is bad enough- especially when a government was popularly elected and is half way into its tenure. And when the pick is confined to a choice between a negative comparative and a negative superlative, that should be a leading indicator of current failure of government strategy to correct the wrongs they pledged to right and a veritable projector of how it will perform in the next election.
There is a crippling correlation between political fealty and the absence of an effective government. This creates fertile ground for sycophantic support because those with the moral courage to speak honestly about the Government’s mal performance do so in closed huddles. So, the much necessary outcry becomes infrequent and confined to just a few who are, then, unwisely dismissed as mere hecklers.
What the Administration is not realizing, or realizing at the pace of pouring rich molasses from a large container, is that mature politics demands that advisers and strategists listen to the non- partisan voices, the voices of disappointment, those of frustration and those that are comparing government deeds to determine how they vote.
As its unpopularity mounts, so do grouses about increasing cronyism and there is a dedicated discussion, a panel of sorts, to what appears to be ex officio appointments of those who resigned or retired from the military, to too many of the country’s top jobs. And ill-advisedly, the Government did attempt to respond to the charge – only that it did so with a painfully inartful collection of words, an almost confrontational explanation which read like a justification in defiance.
And these very words are recounted every time there is another announcement of ‘more jobs for the boys’.
That these delicate dances need to be choreographed by a team with the requisite Communications/Public Relations/Journalism expertise to avoid this type of regurgitation cannot be overstated. But what is more of a take away than the framing of the justification is couching it between negative choices, suggesting that their actions are comparably bad by using the ousted government as its role model. And then there was that supercilious injection, that quip about not “discriminating” against the military staff that were already in the e employ of the People’s Progressive Party.
With the escalating show of buyer’s remorse directed at this Coalition, it could ill afford to appear reactionary to any legitimate queries posed by those who vote. Saying jobs go to a select few because of their perceived qualifications doesn’t exclude others who are equally qualified from a fair evaluation for those very jobs.
There’s this thing called optics – the manner in which the various political audiences absorb what the Administration is doing every time it does something. So, strategy demands that a planned move is envisioned through the lenses of supporters, undecideds, analysts, media – to name a few- and the deed has to be crafted to include the entire audience not segments of it.
In other words, Coalition government, it’s not how it looks to you, it’s how it looks to those you have to impress to vote for you.
The brighter side to all this, though, is that there are still two more years.
Voters ejected a government that failed to serve them for one they thought would. The strategists must remember this as they retool their governance kit for the second half of their tenure.
But setting the bar at limbo levels to measure accomplishment is simply adding executive insult to elective injury.
It is not unusual for Presidents and parties to experience political difficulties during their tenure but losing public esteem after two years in a four year term has to be considered a crisis and must be addressed perscipaciously.
And it’s not even the big things that are causing this loss of confidence – things like Constitution reform which was reportedly on the Prime Minister’s desk since 2015, or the failure to create jobs in the Agriculture sector, for example, where those with lower skill levels could be readily absorbed.
It’s things like 14% value added tax on electricity and water in an economy with a conservatively estimated consistent 12% unemployment rate and a comparatively astronomical crime rate, while anti crime units are staffed with personnel purported to be part of the criminal element…because of nepotism. It’s stuff like doubling bridge tolls and increasing vendor license fees by 500% and rogue government operatives that anger the masses. These are things they lambasted the PPP about in their Coalition Manifesto under Taxation and promised tax relief. This is the blue print they should be consulting when they make their moves.
There remains this odd void at the center of administering… which sort of teeters between campaign hope and government execution of promised change. This is a formula for failure. Hope is a sentiment not a strategy and it dissipates when it is expected to survive in the abstract. There has to be some political realism and fast.
There are two things that are certain.
There is a morbid fear, by those who support this Administration, of the consequences of it not working hard enough to take the country into the era of oil and other natural resources that are burgeoning from its soil. They are aware that the politics of exclusion will decimate that segment of the population that remains the racial target of the other major party, if it wins the 2020 election.
The second is that the additional expertise needed to help this Administration remains uninvited, untapped, in spite of Administration policy because working for the government is seen as reward for those who “were in the trenches” – and theirs is a morbid fear of losing their positions to those who were not – “in the trenches”, that is.
It’s difficult not to be disgusted by this primal level of thinking, especially since a key part of the responsibility of the executive branch of government is to effectively implement policy by ensuring that positions are occupied by agents who have job knowledge. And, if an appointment is given as a reward then there is a fiduciary responsibility to make sure that the appointee is backed up by a person who is qualified, who has actual knowledge and ability.
The whole idea of patronage is repulsive but that’s the smaller battle.
This is the one that must be fought and now.
The country has two major political parties.
Both are unpopular but only one is a threat.
The results of the 2015 elections are a clear indicator that there are swing voters who voted for progress, a government that regarded that line in the Preamble of the Constitution that says: being opposed to all social economic and political systems which permit the exploitation of man by man, a government with a Manifesto that recognized that the mineral wealth and natural resources of the country belong to all Guyanese; a Government that proclaimed to be an agent of change, as opposed to its opponent that pushed a Manifesto of continuation under the ‘next phase’ tag line.
The current performance of Government remains disappointing.
But there is this lingering memory of the Nomination Day List of friends and family that the other Party offered the country, after twenty three years of racialized politics and socioeconomic depression, that remains their brand of politics and their vision for Guyana.
Anxiety and disappointment over the continued missteps of the current Government are understandably causing many to equate the two parties as indistinguishable.
But there are distinctions that should not be blurred, even in disappointment.
This Government, by virtue of its hybrid composition, is more malleable, being just two years old and just twenty four months into its tenure, whether there are misgivings or not.
The other Party, with its largely purist composition and decades of espousing a separatist political ideology, is a danger to the Republic.
This distinction could not be clearer.