Critical political decisions often come down to which bridges to cross and which to burn.
The Coalition’s predicament is that it burns some bridges by the way it crosses others.
The APNU /AFC coexistence is young enough for most to recall why it became a Coalition. It had the greatest probability of sinking the behemoth that is the PPP to save a nation from the wanton disregard of an incumbent government that had ruled by selectivity with deliberacy.
Now it’s separating at its seams, dissenters offering strident ultimata “unless and until…” coupled with a pledge of “we continue to support the Guyanese people’s quest and struggle for national unity, democracy, transparency, accountability and peace and progress” ……….and we’re thinking that those who are separating must be disingenuous because by extrapolation from past performance, the probability of these wishes ever manifesting amongst the population under the Opposition is a solid negative.
It’s not that supporters have Utopian expectations.
There was, indeed, initial euphoria when the Opposition lost in May 2015 , but there was a constant awareness lurking in the recesses of the collective mind that stoking national passions to promote ideals was contrary to patriotism….. the nice way of saying ‘fooling the people through calculated lies’. The population had already spent decades in a state of perpetual expectation looking for promises that seldom came and then never without some form of dilution.
Questions to President Granger and his Administration about productivity and outcomes are many and are all due – as is the collective frustration with the slothfulness of accomplishments.
But if we are for change, we don’t get to pick up our marbles and go home when the game isn’t going our way. That only leaves the playing field open to the competitor who’s just been given a win by default when you throw that tantrum and leave.
Really, what’s the alternative to the current Coalition, as displeasing as they are to many of us?
Surely, it couldn’t be the Opposition which was voted out a mere 30 months ago after more than twenty years of mayhem, nose diving the country onto every international list of worsts. Political wounds have a longer healing cycle and going back to the abuser would be to aggravate what is yet to heal.
There is evidence that the sharp dividing line between the Coalition and the Opposition that was a rainbow of promise is still there. It remains that glimmer for many and reminds them that they cast a vote for a team that gave them renewed assurance that saw Granger as an able Pilot at the helm of government, a man of peace not a political marauder, internationally tarred and feathered, one who desecrates the national Constitution and the halls of Parliament because he’s short on decency, void of civility and simply lacks cooth.
Understandably, Granger’s was a steep learning curve, for no job quite prepares the operative like the job itself. But there is an expectation of the application of common sense, a resorting to humility, an application of the ‘all hands on deck’ approach where assistance is needed- which should never be seen as an embarrassment but as a need that can be filled by so many with the requisite ability. That’s what Advisors are for, to shore up the tenuous branches of government and agencies and fill the voids of local needs.
They haven’t and the Coalition now looks like a fractured body in the throes of political dysfunction, with splinters making independent declarations in the key of Exodus.
Of particular aggravation at this juncture is the absence of effective communication……yes, I’ll say it again because Communication that is effective is the buffer for political bruises and the spine of political success. Why isn’t there a tactical communications presence in this Coalition? Why is there no strategic representative press coverage heralding its do’s and explaining its don’ts with a significant presence, if not dominance, across the media spectrum? Why is there no media strategy for proactivity and counter -disruption for protesters who dispense the message at the grass root level?
The insistence on an answer to the questions is hardly for rhetorical effect; especially when we measure the toll Jagdeo’s recent 72 hour disinformation campaign has taken on the consuming public, in the absence of the Coalition’s proactive information and timely counter to another cheap smear, by the PPP Opposition.
This time it was a vigorous, multipronged attack on the qualifications of GECOM Chairman, James Patterson, on whether he was Chief Justice in Grenada; that he acted, was never substantial in the position; that his memory failed when asked to recall the length of time he served in the capacity of Acting Chief Justice. It was a classic deployment of misinformation weaponized in short, sharp bursts, with the right level of decibels, conjured speculation, pretensive ponderance .…. “we’re still looking in to it… manufactured intrigue ….“multiple sources are telling us…” fabricating on the fly to heighten suspicion over nothing more than lying to cause insurrection.
From Jagdeo’s mouth came this raw sewage and we waited.
We waited for the Communications Team, already well past the midnight of pro activity to, at least, respond; to quote the GECOM Chairman requirements as stipulated by the Constitution Amendment of 1995 which stands as law; to refute the Opposition’s demand to continue a practice that was fundamentally flawed, and whose fix was never enacted by the foul-crying PPP because the flaws allowed them to appoint their own Chairman whose partisan sympathies could say that the country was not ready for elections, in defiance of the very Constitution they now claim to uphold. We expected them to underscore that the PPP’s last appointee was a Veterinarian- a radical departure from Constitutional stipulations of Judge, a pick who delayed several elections for ‘Administrative reasons’, while answering to then President Jagdeo
And as a sweetener it would have been good for them to spotlight Jagdeo’s four Honorary Doctorates, none of which are the result of academic excellence but merely as gratuitous gestures by institutions, stipulating clearly that he appends them to his name only with their express approval and for specified events which they must endorse …
….highlighting that he should NEVER be referred to as Dr. Bharat Jagdeo but as Bharat Jagdeo, Honorary Doctor, strictly…
….spotlighting him as the con artist flaunting qualifications that he has never earned, that he is the culprit of academic impersonation, seeking to inflate his diminutive educational stature to satisfy his ego mania.
Communications in Politics remain the art of owning the narrative, inundating the consciousness of targets, skillfully crafting the character of proponent versus opponent.
Jagdeo continues to win this battle, not because crude, crass and unschooled is its methodology but because the god of politics has given him an opponent afflicted with inexplicable political lethargy and a pompous disdain for any offer of assistance; paving the way for him, Jagdeo, to constantly get away with making mountains of significance out of moles hills of political defecation.
Quarantining this pollutant of politics remains a curiously inexplicable challenge for this Coalition which continues to walk away from insistently communicating a steady rational fear of this man, whose internationally stained record and propensity for impropriety make him uniquely unfit to contest for Presidency.
That being said, the ire of those AFC members who have broadcast intentions to ‘done play’ appears to have come from the President’s selection of the Elections Chairman; a decision that seems to have violated only that of optics for those who claim its impropriety.
Would there were as many Political Puritans willing to break with the PPP, call out their Presidents when Ronald Gajraj, under Jagdeo, in the capacity of Minister of Home Affairs, reputedly operated a Phantom/Death Squad that conducted extra judicial killings; when Ramotar as President appointed his son, Sergei, patently unqualified, to run a 1.3 billion Fibre Optic project for the country which never came to fruition, as the money was ‘appropriated’; when Minister of Education, Shaik Baksh, with a budget of 110million, was embroiled in a massive photo copying of text books to sell to students.
Would, too, that the Opposition (many of whom are in the Coalition) during those violations of administrative trust was as demonstrative as Jagdeo’s poppy show, and had brought this level attention to real crimes and violations of law, back then.
In a post dictatorship such as Guyana’s, with a clearly visible racial fault line, it is imperative that the government makes communication more of a forethought, which would mean more proactive information sharing. In practice, government communication is more than just crisis management, flailing deflections, an afterthought to propaganda. It’s a vehicle that conveys government’s plans, its accomplishments, its policies; all with the express intention of civic education, fostering transparency, raising awareness, changing behavior and taking the pulse of the nation.
With a strange indignation, and a curious obstinacy to review how it communicates past those who are slavering sycophants, the Coalition’s methods remain perilously obsolete, vulnerable to the disinformation drive-by Jagdeo slew them with a few days ago.
None of his promises to provide proof of GECOM’s Patterson faking his CV has been provided, none of his claims of consistent practice and tradition have been upheld….
But the story in all the media still remains the perception of the qualifications of GECOM’s Patterson, not that they were speciously sullied by the PPP propagating the airwaves with fabrications, suppositions, and insinuations….not of Jagdeo’s brazen desecration of political holy grail by commandeering the media to barefacedly lie for political gain…
At the very least, there’s a crisis of authority here, with the conspicuous contempt for decency and order the PPP and Jagdeo show, not only for the elected President but for the country’s Parliament.
And in the face of this, the government apparatus to help shape public opinion remains an anemic, uncoordinated bundle of written and vocal reaction, beaten back by the hooliganism and baseless trash talk that comes from its opponent.
Word is, those in the chamber of Coalition decision making think that doing less is more and that those of us who call for more should be ignored.
Hear this, Coalition decision making chamber occupants.
A political movement that fools itself into thinking being non –reactionary and adopts maxims like “when they go low, we go high”, is one that is inherently lazy, acutely overwhelmed, self-serving and has effectively abandoned the people that put it into power.
Every quote has a context.
And every context has pertinence.
What Michelle Obama said does not apply to Guyana, where politics remains in the trenches and Team Jagdeo is given carte blanche, by Coalition impotence, to dispense manufactured truths, gin up anti government incitement and racially charged sloganeering.
The Coalition, of necessity, has to keep the nation informed, perpetually energize its supporters, be anticipatively proactive and appropriately responsive.
Leaders lead and by setting the example their subordinates follow.
When the job to lead was accepted the pledge taken was to do the best at all times.
Cowering behind some misplaced signage, some ill-fitting catchphrase, with some fabricated magnanimity is simply impermissible.
Going high actually means doing the damn job!
It means climbing off your high horse and engaging the grass roots; reviewing limp effort versus poor and hastening to repair all that government indolence has eroded. Insulating yourself in your constricted bubble, celebrating accomplishments only with “the team”, is as self-defeating as it is self-serving. You have a fiduciary responsibility to report to the people and make sure that they hear you, understand you. They want palpable answers, not nuanced ones. They want to know measurable things, like if the land SARU discovered Jagdeo siphoned to his people through 99 year leases has been repatriated to the nation’s holdings.
Going high means accepting that your supporters are savvy and that saying you cannot meet with the Diaspora because the Secret Service advised against it, is not what a ‘high- goer’ says. Heads of state visit the USA all the time, and visit their Diaspora. They submit their itinerary so that the requisite security could be assigned. Blaming the US Secret Service for your failure over 30 months to meet with the Diaspora is not a ‘high-going’ act but more of a cheap, low level excuse that sits well beneath a government portfolio.
In fact, going high is a dignified restraint, not a passive aggressive snub to dismiss the valid frustrations of those who try to engage you, in accordance with your pledge to include the Diaspora.
And here’s more.
You don’t get to be lazy, prematurely dormant, conceited in the highest office and call that ‘going high’. You don’t get to do the Dalai Lama after 30 months, thinking that some poached saying will explain your political inertia, while the false narrative of the PPP infects too many in the electorate.
And there’s more…but that’s enough for now.
Pirating lines from Michelle Obama’s better self to signal some polished nonchalance is very wrong-footed.
Fires are igniting from within and the Opposition has circled government wagons with flame throwers.
And there’s none in employing Michelle Obama’s morally virtuous epigram as an applause line, either.