Friday, October 19, 2007

Ideas: Do Our Politicians Have Any? One most unfortunate political tradition we have come to live with in this country is the absence of the battle of ideas. The most we ever get from our political combatants is a battle of picong, nothing more. While we cherish the fact that we are a people who are good at such exchanges and it is good, to some degree, that we maintain a sense of levity where we never take ourselves too seriously I, nonetheless, believe we embrace this somewhat sophomoric trait too endearingly.

It is this trait, of course, which was the basis for the calypso We Laughin’ sung by Plainclothes some 25 years ago (if anyone can find the lyrics to this calypso please send it to me). In it, Plainclothes’ central thesis was that we are not a serious people: for everything no matter the gravity, we laugh, in some sort of knee-jerk reaction of avoidance instead of facing our issues head-on. We are said to have a Carnival mentality. And albeit our Carnival is one of our and arguably also one of the world’s greatest festivals, too much frivolity outside of it can never be a good thing.

With US presidential campaigns, there are slew of debates where the electorate can hear the differing views of the candidates on various issues. Why is there little or no such similar fora in our country? We have such a thriving media environment where talk shows abound, it would be nice at least to hear candidates from differing parties appear on the same program to debate issues or present themselves as to why people should vote for them and not another.

Notably, there was a youth forum held at the Hotel Normandie recently (October 17) but regrettably there were no representatives from the major parties like the PNM (People's National Movement) or UNC-A (United National Congress Alliance) present. From press reports, only Winston Dookeran, leader of the COP (Congress of the People) was present to receive a manifesto of what were the youth concerns in the country.

And speaking of manifestos, it would seem that these are few, hard to find or non-existent. Why are such documents not circulating in abundance for people to examine and compare? And when I say manifesto, I do not mean some document containing broad lofty objectives on which any reasonable person might easily agree, e.g. equality for everyone, eradicating poverty, reducing crime etc. I mean outlining of specific strategies, with projected expenditure, timelines etc. as to how the party seeks to accomplish what it says.

We live in an age now where via the power of information and communication technologies the ‘power of the idea’ has become magnified a million-fold compared say with the period of the renaissance or even more recently to the industrial revolution. And speaking of technologies, while some political parties do have web sites, (I was able only to find sites for the UNC and PNM) there are no detailed strategies of their intentions to be found on them: only lofty and deliberately vague objectives upon which there can be no objective assessment. The concept of a creativity quotient (CQ) is now seen as significant for measurement as the traditional intelligence quotient (IQ). Creativity, innovation and problem-solving are the hallmarks of our era and for the future. Why are we here then looking forward for our country with the same old strategies and moribund approaches being used by many of those seeking to lead us?

Sad to say, our political leaders for the most part, appear to me to be more fabulists than fabulous. Notably, the very stem of the word candidate implies that those seeking office should at least be just that: candid. And this is not only with reference to being truthful but additionally to being open and clear with their ideas. providing some framework to some vision, if at all, they possess any.

The time of decision draws nigh. And yet, we await ideas.

1 comment:

  1. Suggested ideas for the the current campaign for any politician caught reading this blog: 1. Campaign finance 2.Climate change 3. Diversification of the economy. 4.Crime 5.Health insurance 6.Constitutional reform....these are of course in no order of importance!!!!


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