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Upcoming elections a serious test of our maturity


EDITOR: The consensus is that the next general election would be one of unprecedented and uncompromising political combat.

The forecast is that when Gonsalves rings the bell, a gladiator fight to the death, ancient Roman style will unfold. The thinly veiled threats and counter-threats betray the fact that we are already at fever pitch, and the persistent calls to arms, rallying the party faithful to be battle-ready for open warfare, warns of a pending eruption. The postulation that the line between war and peace in this election is inadequate both in length and thickness is not farfetched, and should a lit match hit this super-charged election fuse then mudslinging could give way to bottles, stones, cutlasses and God forbid, guns a plenty.{{more}}

But this election is not just a test of whether we can be opponents without being enemies. It will measure inter alia how mature is the democracy of our youthful nation; if we have learned anything from a quarter century of trying to manage our affairs, and if we have developed a culture of civilised rivalry, where elections are contests that bring out the best in us, rather than an excuse to sanction unethical behaviour that brings shame to the nation.

Is the electorate adequately schooled in politics to force upon the politicians this time around, the understanding that power is not their right but a privilege we bestow? Are we sober enough to refuse to give the winning party an advantage that renders the Opposition virtually ineffective? In other words: Did we learn anything from ’79 to ’84 when we had to kill the bills of “the strongest government in the world” and when misbehaviour in public office was just short of daily soap operas? Did the ’89 to ‘94 period when NCB was the current account of one Dr. Rolla and when parliamentary exercises were shams improve our reasoning in politics? Or will this be silly season all over again?

A test of courage

This election will demonstrate whether we are enlightened and courageous enough to demand that the parties discard the non-performing politicians for the good of the country and replace them with bright, hard working and committed people. Will we say to Eustace that rejection of spent “shells” is not enough; his rookies must be quality material. And will we tell the Comrade that the jokers and dismal failures in his pack must be put out to pasture without the pension? To give them one cent more of the people’s money is nothing but encouraging fraud and parasitism, the de facto enforcement of the “greedy bill” in disguise.

Do we understand democracy enough to reject ignoble political conduct thereby demanding that there be no finger pointing irrespective of how perfect the finger? That the rocket launchers of the parties be loaded with warheads on the issues and not the hemlock of personal hate and character assassination? Are we sufficiently intelligent to see things through the crystals of honesty and objectivity and not the jaundiced eyes of party position and so vote for progress, truth and justice? Are we big enough to vote for our nation’s future or we will succumb again to “breadfruit mentality” confirming that after more than half a century of universal adult suffrage we are still politically “untutored and uncultured?”

Will this election show that the Tsars of our parties can still adorn a broomstick in party robes and have us vote for a numskull, the leader’s decorated mannequin, and that the leader can give power to his chosen friend whether in government or opposition and come and “tek it back” when he so desires? Or will it confirm that we have dispensed with the old foolishness of political messiahs? Will we now stand and say no man can command our franchise and who governs in this country was never and will never be bargained during a beach stroll in Grenada?

Who will we elect?

Will this election bring to power leaders who put SVG first and not the USA and what George Bush wants, who would seek to safeguard our sovereignty? Will we this time elect people who understand that SVG is a member as opposed to a subject of the OECS and therefore no education bill can be designed for us in St. Lucia?

Will this be yet another time when we elect people to bankrupt the country and then give them a golden handshake by way of magnanimous sums in gratuity and pension? Is this an exercise that will make us the masters finally or will we remain subjects? Are we mature enough to accept the results of this election and therefore ignore calls to make the country “ungovernable” if the party of our personal choice loses? Will we be reasonable and fair enough to say I supported Eustace but Ralph won or I am ULP but the people say Arhnim should run things and the voice of the people is the voice of God? We must show that we can see beyond NDP and ULP, that we understand that Ralph and Arhnim are but men, yes they might issue tickets on the gravy train, but that is only because we allow them to, they don’t own SVG.

What I am saying is that will this election show that we are serious in putting country first, second and always? Yes, this is the mother of all elections, because the future of this country is at stake. If our nationhood is going to be more than the mere symbolism of a flag and anthem then we must reject those pretenders with their constitution of filth, laziness, spinelessness, corruption, selfishness, divisiveness, greed and empty arrogance. Less we forget, whoever wins will have to captain this nation through the titanic waters of globalisation among a million other challenges. I pray we pass the test.

Dr. Richard A. B. Cox