The prevailing sentiment is that one “cannot support and slap at the same time”.
It’s an insular model of thinking that has created a polarizing dichotomy that forces very finite, prefabricated opinions. So, we are expected to tolerate that absolutism in decision-making, that finality that leaves no room for an alternate suggestion, if we are supporters.
We understand the challenges in governance that this Administration faces. We know that theirs was an inheritance of fiscal mismanagement and administrative malignancy which eliminated the option of using the beaten path to move forward.
But moving forward is not an operation of semantics where we call critiques criticisms and honest support slapping. To further this point, the elected government is expected, is mandated, is obligated, to do good for the people it services. This is their fiduciary responsibility. So why are they expecting to be told, every step of the way, how well they are doing when well should be the baseline standard of their operation?
And the constant citing of the “culture of politics” in Guyana always comes across as a nefarious reference to some back alley, underhanded, corrupt code of ethics that no one has any business engaging in the name of public service. The last Administration used this to justify their nepotism and to systemically give opportunity to specific groups of people while purposely excluding others. We’re not asking for a political Utopia in Guyana but this Administration, with its novel construct, has the opportunity to change the face of that “culture of politics” that has always had dark overtones and can do so without compromising the partisan strategy that is inherent in political ideology.
We understand the politics in politics but warn against it becoming the brand that this Administration leaves as its legacy. Missteps are becoming footprints and that is frightening. Somebody has to take control over how information is disseminated. Optics account for a large percentage of public perception.
We like the idea of honorary ministerial advisors but what was the purpose of publishing the recent list of honorary servants then having to explain that their service merely exists on paper? We know that advice that is not paid for is not advice that will be used strictly and, if at all, will be selectively solicited. So why publish the names and draw criticism (this time correctly used) from onlookers? It just adds to the litany of recent faux pas that have to be defended and deflected.
And, contrary to the thoughts of many, social media does have an impact on public opinion in Guyana because word and print- outs of commentary do get around.
What was suggested was that we contact the relevant members of the government to share our opinions, rather than do so at large. But this would serve to significantly reduce the conversation on the public square where it belongs. Indeed, there are some issues that can be addressed directly with pertinent personnel but I remain unsuccessful in my solicitation for such a meeting and am not alone in that regard.
I have been asked, by a venerable member of the unofficial team of advisors to this government, what I hope to achieve voicing my opinion via this blog. He even hinted that I would get nowhere using this method and should reconsider having a closed-door conversation with government officials.
A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves – that famous statement made by a wise news commentator – looped in my mind but I continued to listen to this man whose wisdom I still cherish but whose question now had me doubting how wise he is on this particular issue and why he was so willing to pawn his wisdom- capital to purchase a blind eye and a deaf ear.
I remained deliberately silent fearing that a hasty response would undo decades of respect.
Having survived our government of wolves for twenty-three years, we now have the opportunity to become an active part of the operating norms of governmental polity and can do this only by getting involved in the country’s politics, closely following the government, inserting ourselves, without solicitation, in the political process.
I know he knows this but he is a product of our political culture which believes that public statements against government fuels the Opposition – to which I say nonsense, instead of the expletive which would more aptly convey my sentiment.
What we must bear in mind is the foundation of our political culture, how it is the product of the history of our system of politics and the life histories of the members of this system. And, we cannot ignore the role that the meetings behind closed doors have played in making the system one that is generally not trusted by the people it should be serving; though the closed-door meeting certainly has its place, particularly for the purpose of strategy.
There are those who feel protecting whatever the government does, good or bad, is a show of loyalty and is a prerequisite for membership to the inner circle.
I have, thus, earned my label as persona non grata and will wear it proudly because I have supported this government without pandering or kowtowing to unspoken protocol.
A government, typically, has a shelf life that is a direct correlation to how they interact with those whom they serve.
I reminded the venerable member of the unofficial team of advisors of this, as he hinted that my public opinion forum may not be sitting well with many in this government that I continue to support without equivocation.