Sitting out the Elections

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Election Day has been announced and May 24th seems to be taking its time to roll in. In the meantime, people are already planning what to do with the remainder of their allocated two hours, but for some ‘inking their fingers’ is not an option. And who can blame them; Trinidad and Tobago’s politics is quite frankly something to derive laughter and entertainment from.

Who needs comedians like Nikki Crosby when we have Emily Gaynor Dick- Forde? Who needs Stallone when we have our own action stars like so-called activist Ishmael Samad, and he didn’t use no stunt man eh? Trinidad ‘politricks’ is a farce and the number of times I’ve listened to Manning insult my intelligence this year is ridiculous. Most people have become disillusioned, and have lost hope in ‘sweet T&T’. I haven’t. But I have lost hope in the PNM and the UNC.

What we have left is de dotish ‘PNM til-ah dead’ and equally idiotic Rum till ah… ah mean UNC til-ah-die mentalities – people who don’t vote based on current issues or even common sense but cast their ballots out of blind loyalty. And let’s face it, race has always been one of the main deciding factors in who runs our Government. It is even more of an issue now, as both parties seem to be blatantly using it as a fighting point. What, with Kamla’s questionable slogan of ‘Is we turn now’ and Manning making racial slurs at his political meetings. The climate of this year’s election is markedly different from the previous one. Where are the core issues? Where are the meaningless promises? Yes, Kamla has said that she would be keeping GATE and other social programmes that help the country, but what else is she offering? Where are the fresh ideas, and how does she plan to improve on the current policies?

 

“The climate of this year’s election is markedly different from the previous one. Where are the core issues? Where are the meaningless promises?”


Why is Manning still using the same ole tag line? What’s new – well besides allegedly using state funds to build a church for his… spiritual advisor? What are they doing for us? And knowing that the answer is not much of anything positive, why should we waste our time voting in the first place?

 

Instead of discussing Manning’s alleged marital problems and his penchant for building large churches on state lands, why aren’t they discussing and exploring possible ways to improve the drainage system in Port of Spain? Why not tell me that they’re going to increase minimum wage so that workers can afford a healthier lifestyle. Tell me that my grandmother is going to get an increase in her pension so that she can dye her hair black, and feel young again instead of bickering about Kamla’s use of a Celine Dion song. Who really cares?!  Tell me what my future PM is willing to do for me. I can afford to be selfish because my Government’s purpose is to serve me. If I demand that they be transparent in their actions and policies, they damn well better do so. I pay their wages with my tax money; the PM is essentially my employee, and he or she works for me. We don’t need to accept his incompetence or his lack of regard for this country’s wishes. What we need is an entirely new electoral system, one that has the people and not the political party’s best interest in mind. Maybe we just need an infusion of fresh blood and new faces – new opinions in order to breathe new life into the governance of T&T.

 

“But should I ignore the problems facing this country in order to feel like I’m a part of history?”


 

Kamla’s ‘I am woman…hear me roar’ theme seems weak and irrelevant at best. Okay, so she’s a woman, how does that fact indicate that she will make a better PM than Manning or someone else (although I’d think at this point de vagrant dat does walk around cursing passersby on Henry Street could make a better PM)? It’s a nice idea to vote based on the fact of creating history. The first female PM in Trinidad history! Sounds nice, I’ll admit, but should I ignore the problems facing this country in order to feel like I’m a part of history, especially when I feel uneasy about exactly what kind of legacy she will leave behind? I vaguely remember a time when Kamla fought bravely for leadership of the UNC; I remember her failing to obtain that leadership and then meekly bowing to her leader’s wishes. Is that a personality trait I want in my leader, ‘when all else fails, conform’ or ‘if you can’t beat them join them’.

 

This election is bringing about more questions than answers, but while you all spend your time, wondering who to vote for or what happened to the COP, I will be trying to decide where I spending my two hours and ah could guarantee, I won’t be scrubbing ink off my finger on the 24th of May. And to whoever bawling and getting themselves excited, saying things like people die and struggle and protest so that I could vote. A gentle reminder is that no one sacrificed so that I could vote; they sacrificed so that I could have the opportunity to do so, so that I can freely make the choice. I don’t think any of my forefathers really expected me to forego common sense and dip my finger just for the sake of doing so. I see both candidates as incapable of the leadership that this country needs. On one hand we have a would-be dictator, and on the other we have a woman scorned. I imagine this election in terms of a quote I heard many years ago. “We’re in a giant car, heading towards a brick wall and everyone is arguing over where to sit.” Instead of choosing who drives the car into the wall, I think I’ll sit this one out.

 

Image credit: Istockphoto.com

 

 

Kalifa Clyne is a writer who spends all of her time writing or thinking about writing.

6 Comments

  1. Maurice Burke

    April 26, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Offensive man. I stopped at the accusation of party voters as unintelligent. Which ever side people sit on, they do so because of their convictions.

    Some of them see you as foolish for not having a side. Which ever way it goes, people have a right to their opinion.

    I just think that our society has become overly aggressive in trying to change others. Stop calling people fools and see how far you can get, why don’t you?

    Apply the same kind of argument you use against Christians for saying that Christianity is the only true faith, and see where it takes you!

    The hypocrisy is amazing!

  2. Tony Puck

    April 29, 2010 at 2:05 am

    Big up to the Outlish Magazine, first issue looks good and the first article I chose to read resonates with my position on the upcoming elections. I like it.

    Our politics now is about the pot calling the kettle black, they are both black. Unlike Mr. Burke I read the entire article and agree with the writer. (By the way, I don’t believe he stopped reading to comment; that’s a half truth.) Everyone has a right not to vote just as they have a right to vote.

    Let’s face it the imported Westminster form of government sucks. Citizens should stop lulling themselves to sleep by thinking that a next “new” government will be better.

    What’s right with a system that legitimizes 50 – 60 percent of the population to vote then 1 percent makes decisions for 1.3 million people?

    Only two years ago we elected a government that “invested” millions in summits, churches, smelters and Harts with seemingly no apparent consequence or accountability.

    The “democratic population” becomes the silent majority that rely on the media to learn about issues; and then the have the “right” to agree or disagree. And they do.

    Fact is does it really matter which side of the fence you sit before or after elections its all hot air. Your vote does not enhance your rights then. Each of us must fight our own battles. Vex if you want, that is how it is.

    Dah is my penny.

    P.S. Keep up the good work Outlish, let the youths speak.

  3. Analisa

    April 29, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    It’s not offensive…like you said yourself Mr. Burke “people have a right to their opinion”…That statement in itself is hypocritical on your behalf and everyone deserves to have respect for having their own opinions.

    This is not a competition so let’s just agree to disagree and let people have a mind of their own. The only person trying to change others here is you.

    I think it’s a great article and I wish more people would have the freedom to voice their thoughts without being scolded for it.

  4. Cheeno

    May 6, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    “We’re in a giant car, heading towards a brick wall and everyone is arguing over where to sit”.

    I’ve never heard that quote before, that is hilarious!

    Well, I hear what you’re saying, and local politics is a little dismaying after a while.

    At the time of your post in April, you mentioned that you haven’t heard any of the plans spoken about by the opposition, but I guess their disorganisation is due to it being a snap election and they don’t have the luxury of campaigning properly. (I’d prefer that any opposition get their stuff together and make themselves visible all year through, take advantage of technology and let themselves be known even though they aren’t in power). But I believe at this point a manifesto should be out soon

    My only advice to anyone who has just started to pay attention to politics is to not take what anyone says as truth and do research into how they come to those figures, because it’s easy to lie about any topic on a platform and they WILL lie to get your vote.

    One example, would be the issue of poverty. Say in 1995, the poverty level was about 22%… or 21.5%

    (see page 12 on http://www-wds.worldbank.org/servlet/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/1995/10/27/000009265_3961008024114/Rendered/PDF/multi0page.pdf)

    Of course, with the present party they’d say that they’ve dropped it to about 17% (rather boastful about it too). That’s fine, until you look at how they came to that conclusion . See, they did research around 2005 and immediately after collecting the data, they assumed someone could survive on $665 a month. Then inflation went up & up, food got expensive. So, instead of saying, huh, let’s change the $665 to a higher figure to calculate poverty levels, they didn’t bother to.
    (http://www.vision2020.info.tt/pdf/Policies and Procedures/Policy Documents/Analy
    sis of the Trinidad and Tobago Survey of Living Conditions.pdf)

    Then they released their figure of 17% which is not true at all, yet the Prime Minister often throws around the figure and people of course, accept it without question thinking that it is quite an achievement.

    At the time of writing this comment, I found this report here:
    (pg 13 at http://sta.uwi.edu/salises/pubs/workingpapers/PovertyHouseholdWelfareTNT.pdf)

    which seemed to have been done recently (maybe 2008/2009) and estimated that we were our poverty level is really at 22%.

    Anyway, having to listen to statistics about what they’ve gotten done bugs me, because when you really look at it, it’s all bullshit.

  5. Cheeno

    May 7, 2010 at 4:18 am

    Sorry, just realised that in his (Patrick Manning) speeches lately, he is actually saying that they dropped poverty the level to 3%.

    *sigh*

  6. kclyne

    May 7, 2010 at 4:54 am

    I start ranting and feeling like I’m losing my mind every single time that someone brings up elections. I can’t seem to help myself. Listening to anything that a politician says on a platform and taking it as fact seems futile to me. You’re right when I wrote this it was still early days yet but that being said, time has passed and I’m still hearing silence on any major issues. I went to the UNC rally in mid center mall and stood there for an hour while Kamla repeated the phrase ‘We will rise’ every five minutes. I listened to Patrick Manning insult and attempt to demean the opposition, his attacks based on personal issues instead of issues that deal with the country. I fel if I asked a PNM candidate to tell me why Kamla would make a bad PM the answer would be because she wears a cardigan in a tropical climate. I’ve been going to these meetings and following the election via print media in an effort to convince myself that there is a suitable candidate, but alas my views have not changed. On may 24th I’m either going to dip my finger in green ink as a sign of protest or draw a box with the word jesus in it and ink that.

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