Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 22nd 2015 Contents Nomination day for the 2015
general election mimicked
the light-hearted frivolity of
Carnival. Leave it to Trinis to
transform into a celebration
what would, in other countries,
be an either perfunctory or
Rival candidates shaking
hands with non-forced smiles,
flanked by their branded sup-
porters truly says something
about our interpretation of
Rrrrrrrap pa tap pa tap! went
the tassa drum as PNM candi-
date Terrence Deyalsingh, rolled
up the tassa Bissessar in buoy-
ant competition with a UNC
tassa side heralding the nomi-
nation of his rival, Vasant
For all the mean-spirited vit-
riol pervading social networks
and barbs traded between
political platforms, nomination
day demonstrated our capacity,
albeit rare, for civility and
That s where the plaudits for
our politics end I m afraid. The
inescapable reality is deeply
entrenched voting patterns that
elevate the party/tribe above
the candidate and, consequent-
ly, the people.
It is often argued that voters
remain faithful to this conven-
tion as only a party can form
the government. Such myopia
is precisely what allows unde-
sirables to slip into parliament.
Ideally, citizens should cast
their ballots in favour of the
best candidate, regardless of the
party they represent. This
approach can begin the process
of dismantling our negative
culture of tribalism and race-
Shifting our attention to indi-
viduals, their political ideologies
and their stance on issues of
governance can pave the way to
elusive political maturity.
Reframing our concept of the
candidate as not simply a rep-
resentative of the party, but a
representative of ourselves
seems a more practical means
of populating parliament with
the best and brightest.
The electorate has been hyp-
notised into believing that sim-
ply voting is true power when,
in fact, it is closer to political
impotence. The revolving door
of the electoral cycle ensures
the return of the same political
ideologies. They are sometimes
embodied in new faces, devo-
tees selected purely for their
loyalty to the body politic and
not you, the voter.
If political parties are threat-
ened with the possibility of tra-
ditionally faithful constituencies
voting against them in favour
of eminently suitable candi-
dates, the concept of the "safe
seat" would begin to collapse.
Guaranteeing a party your
vote is guaranteeing the con-
tempt of politicians. Meaningful
development across communi-
ties, and by extension the
country, can t evolve beyond
empty promises if your vote is
all but assured. Why work for
something you ve already won?
The diminution of safe seats
would place a greater burden
on the parties to find strong
candidates and not mere vessels
for echoing "Aye" in parlia-
Additionally, successful aspi-
rants would have no choice but
to perform in office, knowing
that their electors would switch
political allegiances if presented
with a more attractive prospect
in a subsequent election.
A vote should be viewed as
entrusting your power to a
MPs should stand up in par-
liament and in the cabinet
against a sitting government in
instances where they believe
that bills or policies abrogate
the interests of the people.
They should be able to do
this without fear of being con-
signed to the political graveyard
because they have the backing
of their constituents.
When politicians come
around with the music trucks
and other nonsense, don t just
look for a baby to hand over
for a kiss. Instead of holding
fast to " That is my MP!" or
conversely "All of them are the
same, I m not voting," use the
opportunity to corner them on
serious issues. Distinguish
between those who have inno-
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vative ideas and others who are
political drones. Don t allow the
walkabout to be a walk-through.
As voters, we have a responsibility
to demand more of candidates.
What are their backgrounds in
political and social activism?
What are their academic and/or
experiential credentials? What
meaningful proposals do they have
for the most pressing issues bur-
dening our communities and the
Our political culture invests all
authority, ostensibly, in one person;
the political leader. We actively per-
petuate the maximum leader per-
In the UK, even though the Tories
have been given a second mandate,
British Prime Minister David
Cameron knows he has to contend
with members of his own party
who fundamentally disagree with
certain policy positions of his gov-
German Chancellor Angela Merkel
faces growing dissent from inside
her own conservative party against
approvals for further bailout funds
There are many examples of
democratic traditions in which loy-
alty to taxpayers and voters trumps
blind allegiance to the party.
For electors ready to "vote out
corruption," how is that achieved
exactly? PNM supporters condemn
the PP as the most corrupt govern-
ment ever; PP supporters return the
"accolades." This is absolutely
Unless someone has developed an
algorithm which conclusively meas-
ures which party is more corrupt,
immoral and prone to knavery,
down to the last cent, kick-back
and horn, you are still trading six of
one for half a dozen of the other.
Honing in on the quality of can-
didate on offer is the best start to
achieving the sort of culture that
will take the crapaud out of our
DON'T LET WALKABOUTS BE WALK-THROUGHS
The electorate has been hypnotised into believing that
simply voting is true power when, in fact, it is closer to
political impotence. The revolving door of the electoral
cycle ensures the return of the same political ideologies.
They are sometimes embodied in new faces, devotees
selected purely for their loyalty to the body politic and
not you, the voter.
defacing St Joseph
I thought that we were having an environmentally
clean 2015 election campaign until I woke up yester-
day morning and went out to the Eastern Main Road.
My eyes were disturbed by hundreds of unsightly
"PNM St Joseph" flyers attached to T&TEC's and
TSTT's poles. Some poles had as many as five each.
And this was just overnight. I shudder to think about
what is to come by September 7.
If the PP's St Joseph candidate does the same, can
you imagine how unsightly our roads, poles and walls
Worse yet, there will be absolutely no effort made
by the candidates and their supporters to clean up
their rubbish after. Therefore, our community and en-
vironment will have to suffer from "flyer dirtiness" for
months after the election campaign is done.
It is unbelievable that in so technological an age,
we are still using 1915 strategies.
Come on PNM candidate for St Joseph, you can be
more environmentally friendly.
Linus F Didier
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