Errol Pilgrim

WHERE their intemperate, irrational and dangerously divisive reaction to election losses is concerned, there is an uncanny and unsettling similarity between Donald Trump and Kamla Persad-Bissessar. And Natalee Legore, the host of a local early-morning television programme, must be commended for her astuteness in picking up on this unflattering political likeness shared by two politicians who are so far apart in geography and circumstance.

As was to be expected, Ms Legore has been subjected to the usual tiresome tirade that the United National Congress is so quick to foist on those professionals who refuse to flatter their inflated political ego. The party has issued a swift press release accusing the stringently non-partisan commentator of political bias.

But what really are the facts behind the eerie similarities between Mrs Persad-Bissessar and her perpetually disgraced American hero that have so upset the UNC?

In the United States, Trump has adamantly refused to concede his defeat in the 2020 presidential election. His unrelenting claim that the confirmed victors, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, stole the election, has resulted in his endless, bull-headed attempts to overturn the results and disenfranchise tens of millions of voters.

It meant nothing to Mr Trump that his outrageous and insufferable demands were repeatedly and comprehensively defeated and denounced by both the US electoral process and the courts, even where those processes and those courts were administered by people whom he himself had appointed.

In Trinidad and Tobago, Persad-Bissessar has adamantly refused to concede the UNC’s defeat to the People’s National Movement in both the 2015 and 2020 general elections.

With regard to 2015, she quickly proceeded to reinforce her standing as the most litigious politician in T&T history, by taking to the courts her claim that the PNM had stolen the election. The fact that the UNC case was shamefully defeated did nothing to cause Kamla to acknowledge her 2015 election loss.

Instead, she adamantly refused to concede defeat, still lying, like Trump, about election fraud.

Today, because of their outrageous and failed allegations in the local courts in 2015, the UNC still owes the PNM millions of dollars in court charges.

Yet this “stupidity debt” has failed to discourage Persad-Bissessar and her UNC from once again crying foul and lying about election fraud in the 2020 election.

Their protracted recounts of the results, that threatened to overwhelm national tolerance, eventually failed to produce the result they desired. And this, notwithstanding their desperate, Trump-like conspiracy theory about ballots having been discovered by a UNC supporter in some Arima bushes.

Moreover, just as Donald Trump today condemns the American elections machinery that presided over his election victory in 2016, Persad-Bissessar and her UNC have consistently denounced the electoral process that gave her an unchallenged 2010 victory – a proven process that has faithfully served Trinidad and Tobago over many years beyond and after that.

One cannot seriously dispute the claim in that UNC press release that the UNC has a constitutional right to “legally question electoral irregularities.” Of course, they do. But it is the same argument that Trump supporters, with their self-serving political ambitions, have advanced for questioning what they, too, claimed to be “electoral irregularities” in the US presidential election.

I feel that in respect of both Trinidad and Tobago and the US there should be a caveat to determine that allegations of “electoral irregularities” should be seriously established before they are allowed to be a waste of any court’s valuable time.

The underlying fact is, however, that like Donald Trump, Kamla Persad-Bissessar is a terribly bad loser.

But where there is any departure from the similarities of the manner in which they both respond to election defeats, the UNC leader is thankfully one step ahead of her infamous American idol. So far.

At least she did not incite her followers to sack the Red House following either of those elections she lost.

Trump, on the other hand, openly incited thousands of his misled supporters to invade the Capitol building that not only houses the US Senate and House of Representatives. And he took pains to ensure that the anarchist insurrection would be timed to disrupt the constitutional proceedings aimed at confirming the election victory of Biden and Harris.

A glimmer of similarity resides in what appears to be a misguided determination of the UNC and its cohorts and supporters to exploit a dangerous racial divisiveness in Trinidad and Tobago amidst and in the wake of the two recent elections in which that party was decisively defeated by the PNM.

It is a divisiveness that can only impede the efforts of Trinidad and Tobago to survive and succeed in these trying times.

And yes, there is one other significant similarity that Persad-Bissessar shares with the almost defunct Donald Trump. They both love to see themselves on TV.

So take heart, Natalee, what I have seen of your professionalism is beyond reproach. And I’m willing to wager that before long Kamla will be beseeching you for a spot on your morning show.


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