Because colonial bigotry was replaced with the politics of racial resentment and traditional Party Paramountcy in the post independence era – all about the base – governing, as a conduct of politics, became a one dimensional thrust of ideology more in the interest of fulfilling partisan goals than that of national benefit.
The disadvantage is that voters still receive a single track injection of political knowledge and not the voter and civic education necessary to ensure that all constituents understand their rights, their political system and the nature of the contests they are asked to decide.
APNU’s 2015 Manifesto brought hope. Under PHILOSOPHY and OBJECTIVES of COALITION … Coalition is resolutely committed to: Establish and entrench an inclusionary democracy… which would create opportunities for the participation of citizens… in the decision-making processes of the state, with particular emphasis on the areas of decision-making that affect their well-being emphasized active citizenship. It was the promise of a democracy many had longed for.
That pledge has since devolved and now, into the shameful performance by the incumbent President Granger, stooping to match the stupidity skills of the PPP in a grotesque attempt to look folksy, by delivering a 6 F’s tantalize about the indisputably unqualified Irfaan Ali, in a decidedly reprehensible performance that was clearly an acting class gone bad.
David Granger was elected on a platform of restoration, pledging to reinstate classes on civic responsibility (page 7 under Governance) and to replace political hostility with unity (page 4 right column 3rd paragraph from top) and moral rebuilding (page 43) – national afflictions that were an inheritance from a corrosive PPP under Bharrat Jagdeo.
We expect a higher level of campaigning, one that rises above the overdone wine downs and the tantalize and the hints at raunchiness. Campaigns are events at which politicians solicit the vote not expect it; which would require them to make a substantial case to both their base and to others who may be won over.
And as much as it’s an insult to suggest that bawdy and raucous is what the electorate “wants as substance”, it’s disheartening to know that the decades of diluted politicking by elected officials has set the bar so low that canvassing from the bottom is the considered norm and sexual innuendo is the way to the voter’s heart…as is suggested by those who feel citing these campaign aberrations is “criticizing for criticizing sake “.
It’s not all about the base.
Focusing so precisely on existing supporters- even if the focus is flawed- creates campaign messaging that can alienate and energize those outside of the tent to look elsewhere.
And please don’t say Guyanese don’t “think like that”.
That’s the other condescension that questions whether your pledge to improve and lift up is genuine; if, instead, you’re willing to ride in on the back of the behavior you condemn then cite that behavior as a societal ill that you’ll champion for change.
Conveniently misusing the campaign to normalize the thing that you frown on when it’s not campaign season really makes the behavior an established norm and wrecks the corrective machinery from within.
Vote with a “SEXY X”? for real… team that came to restore Guyana’s eroded values?
Do these politicians just free-style, denying their employers, the voters, the respect of hiring expertise?
The problems in Guyana’s politics are deeper than past elections. They are the sum total of a binary system that has divided the country into two irreconcilable teams, both of which have injected culture into politics in such a way that substance is relegated to by product.
It’s now election season. Substance be damned. Parties are running negative campaigns distracting from their own failures, ineptitude and plain old incapability of ever holding office. Pledges leap frog each other, each, purportedly, a better version of the preceding, culminating in the old standby “making Guyana a country for all people”, with characteristic energy and vagueness.
National polity has gotten cheaper. The party that sank the country to the depths of itself has made Lower a new benchmark, running a potential felon for the highest office, and incorporating its media savages to shamelessly demonstrate its racial intent by pulling stock photos of Africans from google to incite racial division … its go- to sales pitch because its socio-political-economic records are internationally enshrined as dismal failures.
It’s part of public culture, we accept, for Campaigns to aim at shaping the public’s impression.
But news, both formal and informal, play a similar shaping role and the onus remains on the publications committed to journalistic principles to exercise the civic- leadership component of the craft, implement its inherent obligation to objectivity – if it is not a subsidiary of a political faction – to uphold its role in the informational process.
And lies…they are equally as reprehensible as the carnival campaigning; like the 50K jobs Jagdeo promises in 2020, when the Vaitarna and Bai Shan Lin logging, the Russian Rusal mining and the miscellaneous countries extracting the country’s precious metals for the 11 years he claimed the Presidency, held unemployment at 12% -confirming that he’s not a job creator.
So please don’t say “All Politicians Lie” especially when most of the things are so verifiably false. That’s actually an opinion we vehemently oppose because we, the ‘puritans’ we are, feel the bridge from the entertaining lies on the campaign, to generate momentary support by applause, provides too easy a transition to governing by blasphemy, as has been the curse of governance in Guyana post 1966.
It’s, actually, our firm opinion that ALL politicians do not lie and lumping them all as liars removes the simple expectation of honesty which allows the bona fide liars to keep on lying and in the name of politcking.
So, we’ll continue to call BULL Sugar Honey Ice Tea on the flagrant falsehoods and impracticalities that proliferate the campaign as messaging and pledges.
Voters cast their ballots on the basis of these broad brushed, rhetorical fabrications and we, as impartial brokers, need to uphold our commitment to civic duty by calling them what they are.
“Criticizing for criticize sake”, as has been the charge against us, is a badge we’ll wear proudly…because for us, it’s not about the base but about Guyana. Criticism is a veritable disinfectant.
Even in this age of political irreverence, elections and voting remain the right of citizens who should have a fair opportunity to pick from amongst those professing to be able to best address national needs.
Politicians, civics will share, are bound by legal and moral obligations to make pledges that are doable. To do otherwise distorts, in the public mind, the proper roles of those elected to serve in the highest offices. That glorifies dishonesty -even if it’s a hold over from leaders past.
So, as boring as it sounds, campaigning politicians owe a straightforward account of their intentions and aims to their listeners. And though it may not stoop to the trivia of the “Sexy X”, or grab headlines or garnish social media clicks, it is, in the end, more honest.