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Anesia: her-story

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by Benson Plaugh-Feddows Tue, Sept 11, 2012

In the immediate aftermath of the Anesia vs the NDP fiasco, many persons were sounding off their thoughts and opinions about Anesia’s political future. In my estimation, the great majority of persons, especially political pundits and junkies, were and are of the opinion that her political horse is kaput. This sentiment is again the talk of the town in light of her recent launch of the Democratic Republican Party.{{more}} They opine that, as one writer in an article in a weekend newspaper titled: “A few thoughts on Anesia and her political party”, put it: “… she isn’t learning from our political history. In conclusion, I wish Anesia well, and I must say that she has a wealth of knowledge to draw from when it comes to the third party experience in SVG.

For example, there is Ken Boyea, whose party didn’t last as long as ‘Miss Janey’s fire’. There is also Ivan O’Neal, who, after so many years in the political wilderness, is yet to grab a significant number of votes or attract any reputable or respectable candidates.”

That, in my opinion, is exactly where they are missing the point and which rationale is seriously and fatally flawed. For starters, Anesia and her political party have less to do with a political “history” and a heck of a lot more to do with a political “her-story”. Comparing apples and oranges. This is a different era, different dynamics. A decade and a half ago, there was not the proliferation of FM radio stations and talk shows. There was little or no online social media. No Facebook, no Twitter, no MySpace, HighFive etc. Neither were the players back then as media savvy nor nearly as adept at using and manipulating the media as Anesia has shown that she has an insatiable propensity so to do. Why “her-story”? Simple! None of the cases cited about our political “history” had anything to do with a female. Neither were they as prolific in espousing their political philosophy and social agenda. There is a phenomenon known as “bucking the trend”. Anesia had for several years a weekly column titled: “Persistent Scrutiny”. In addition to her radio and TV shows, which though veiled in religiosity, have an unmistakable political slant and agenda. Her “rights and freedoms of the people” mantra mirrors the American Bill of Rights and Constitution, more than any theological dogma or exegesis. She sees herself of the ilk of a Martin Luther King and quotes him frequently. Anesia isn’t about to fade away any time soon. As the saying goes in American political circles, I paraphrase: “Rigor Mortis is the only cure for Prime Ministerial ambition.” And at the politically tender age of thirty-two, she can conceivably be a force to be reckoned with for the next thirty to thirty-five years. It will be and is a serious mistake to slight Anesia, as is evidenced by the mockery, scorn, ridicule and disparagement of the nomenclature she has chosen: “The Democratic Republican Party”.

Some exhibit befuddlement at the name. They question whether she is confused about wanting to be a Democrat or a Republican. They do this from the perspective of the American political parties; they pay no attention to the fact that the adjectives “Democratic” and “Republican” are used in their formative derivation. In other words, there is absolutely no oxymoronic contradiction, cross-contamination nor conflict in the formation; they are not mutually exclusive. They make perfect sense — the Democratic Republican Party. No different from several of our neighbouring islands being “democratic republics”.

Going back to the issue of the viability of an Anesia-led political party and whether, as some pundits have declared, it is: “still-born”, “dead-on-arrival”, “will lose her deposit”. Many of these persons may have to eat their words. What they fail to take into account is the fact that the DRP need not win a plurality of seats in a general election to have an effect, for better or for worse, on the political landscape. They seem not to take into account that the country is, at this juncture, virtually split down the middle and susceptible to viable and charismatic third or independent candidates. Think back forty years to 1972. There were, I believe, thirteen constituencies. There were two entrenched political parties contesting general elections. There was a tie between those two parties and then there was a third factor — the famous independent candidate, whom members of at least one of the main parties deprecatingly ridiculed as “The Bequia Fisherman”, during the campaign. The fisherman won his seat and as legend has it, when he was being courted by leaders of both parties to join either of them in a coalition, he hung a “Gone Fishing” sign on his door and went into seclusion, causing a constitutional and parliamentary cliff-hanger for a few days, before he agreed to negotiate. When he finally emerged, he had parlayed his independent seat into extracting the concession of becoming Head of Government — the “Bequia Fisherman” had become, Mr Premier! The coalition was short-lived, but the fact is, that is also a part of our “political history”.

Underestimate Anesia and pay the price. If she shifts from West St George, where she now lives and is interested in contesting, and goes back to her stomping ground where she grew up and has considerable emotional and sentimental ties — the constituency of East Kingstown, she can be, by virtue of default, the deciding factor in who wins that seat. In addition to being her home base, there is the added incentive of going head-to-head with her one-time boss, chief nemesis and head of the opposition party. There, she may not necessarily win, but may be able to shave enough votes from the 500 or so majority he enjoyed in the last elections, thereby serving the role of “spoiler” and throwing the constituency into the winning column of the governing party and its young, bright, vibrant and energetic candidate, who, by then, due to his tireless work, may be able to cream off the remainder of the opposition leader’s majority. Serving as a spoiler in East Kingstown would be, for all intents and purposes, a win for Anesia. She would have played a pivotal role in the involuntary retirement of the person she has accused of taking away her “half-of-a-loaf” and putting her on the “bread line.” I believe I know what she would be thinking reading this: “I am not in this to be a spoiler, I’m in to win”.

As to the comparison to Mr O’Neal and his inability to attract reputable or respectable candidates, I do not believe Anesia would have any such encumbrance. She has a group of bright persons in her organization, although it will be ill-advised to run more than two of them. Having said that, I do believe that there is enough disaffection and apathy in the opposition ranks from which she may be able to glean another three or four candidates; not necessarily current parliamentarians, but opportunistic hangers-on who are dissatisfied with the stagnancy of the party, be they political has-beens, rejects or wanna-bees. She also has supporters and sympathizers in the diaspora, some of whom may have political aspirations. Some may already be retired and have nothing to lose by coming home for a few months and throwing their hats in the ring. The seats to watch in credible three-party general elections will be the ones the opposition took away from the governing party in the last contest. The DRP, with bona-fide candidates in these constituencies, can cause some nail-biting and stomach churning, especially in the ranks of the opposition party. Again, do not underestimate the x factor of the yet to be written “her-story” of an Anesia Baptiste.

One thing is for certain, the next general elections will be very exciting and I hope violence-free. As an aside, nothing to do with Anesia, if the governing party wants to win the Grenadines seats, the formula is this: change the last names of the candidates. The people of the Grenadines are not “party-loyalist”; they are loyal to a name that’s like music to their ears — “Mitchell”.

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