The Nomination Day exercise for the candidates who are standing in the general election on August 10 took place ten days ago with DJ, decibels and drumming. Since then, the throwing of political “dus’ in we face”, about which I wrote last week, has continued thicker and sometimes more polluted.
The mini, jersey-wear, Nomination Day carnival seems to have set an even shallower tone than usual, perhaps consistent with the deficient capacity of some of the candidates the political parties have offered us. It set us up for more gallery and less substance.
In one of his recent letters to the editor, incisive commentator Noble Philip, clearly frustrated that the current election campaign cannot rise above “bluster and bravay danjay moves”, observed that “we make no connection between the quality of the nominees and the job of crafting and debating any plans brought to our incoming parliament of the different political parties”.
The problem for us is that ketch tail is upon us while, as Shakespeare’s over-ambitious, power-hungry Macbeth lamented, life is a “tale full of sound and fury signifying nothing”. Similar tales, which certain candidates read out like robots, and personal attacks, predominate in the virtual meetings.
By parroting tales signifying nothing, the candidate types referenced by Noble Philip vividly demonstrate their lack of capacity to craft plans for presentation, not just in the Parliament, but anywhere.
Weak candidates on each side may be found among some of the has-beens as well as some of the neophytes. The resulting void, lacking energising speakers, has to be filled by motorcades and by some jaded politicians practising “the politics of personal destruction”.
It is understandable that, given a pandemic-restricted environment and the limited vibes of virtual meetings, more motorcades may be thought necessary to rev up the support bases. However, there is nothing to be gained from motorcade democracy instead of inspiring campaign speeches.
Moreover, do we want to develop additional motorcades in the form of jouvay-like events, especially in view of this past week’s ominous re-appearance of Covid-19 in cases of local spread?
Hopefully, some breakout speakers will emerge and tell us from where the revenue streams are to be derived to finance the expenditure and investment which are being touted.
Some possibilities are scary. Two days ago the Leader of the Opposition said the UNC will use “the cash balances” of the National Insurance Board and the Unit Trust Corporation. How will that affect the ability of those institutions to meet their respective ongoing liabilities? Or, will revenue be extracted in the form of PNM property tax at rates to break our backs?
What is also diminished by the noise is the continuous murder. The interest of the ordinary citizen requires that treatment of violent crime remains a major issue on the platforms. Are bloody weekends, perpetrated by killers who cannot be caught, to become another “new normal”?
Meanwhile, like PNM really fraid Watson Duke in Tobago. It is not alone. Some business leaders expressed fear of a hung Parliament and that tells me they too fraid Duke. How else will the Parliament be hung unless a third party element gains a seat? Realistically, in which of the fragments of third parties or of the one-man bands can we place hope to break the PNM/UNC stranglehold?
Of course, if the respective bases of the parties lived in a less tribal political world, the PNM should have hard questions to answer about socio-economic conditions in East Port of Spain. Likewise, the UNC should have hard questions to answer about the straightforwardness of their stewardship, given the PNM’s relentless attacks on their probity during the UNC’s 2010-to-2015 term in office. However, the police have not concluded enquiries in the two high-profile matters in respect of which hints are being dropped from the PNM political platform.
It cannot be over-emphasised that, amid all of the noise, it is crucial to discern who has a credible plan to get us through the post-pandemic economic depression, likely to be the severest ever. To apply, but make indigenous, another famous US political phrase: “It’s the economy, chupidee.”