Tears on Election Day. Running the Race.
I remember the day Barack Obama was elected. I stayed up all night, watching the results. When he won, I cried long tears of happiness. I called people; people called me. All over the world we were rejoicing. You’d think he was President to us all. But the fact is, at that point in time, I felt like he was my President.
Here was someone who I could identify with – a fresh face with new ideas. A normal kinda guy who took the bull by the horns, and rode it all the way to Presidency even when the odds were stacked against him. A guy who did away with old mentalities, showed up the old systems for what they were, and said ‘I’ll be the change I want to see’, even with the potential threat of assassination.
This morning in T&T, my face is dry. My heart is indifferent. My mascara is in place (ok, I’m not wearing any). Is it that I don’t care about governance in this country? Of course I care. However, let’s face facts; we don’t have any prominent politicians who can light a fire under our feet, far less in our hearts. For the few who may be charismatic or dare to share the views of the people at times, they always cower and toe the party lines in the end, giving up their integrity and chutzpah in the process.
“Wouldn’t it be great if at least for one election, we could get caught up in a passionate campaign for change?”
During the elections, I made a joke on my Facebook status saying I’d run for elections. A friend asked if I was serious. He is a staunch political supporter with close affiliations, and I didn’t know if he now was serious. I simply said no. The truth is I can’t take up a party card for either side. I can’t run my blood to water campaigning for something I don’t believe in passionately. This election, you’ve seen so many comments on Facebook, so many articulate comments from people, young and not so young, and I ask myself, wouldn’t it be great if these same people were running for office? Wouldn’t it be great if at least for one election, we could get caught up in a passionate campaign for change? I laugh whenever I see the word change in General Elections campaigns. What change? It’s the same faces, the same resistance to address what really matters to people, and the same old mentalities, with everyone gunning for a seat of power.
Many people often end up just jumping on whatever political bandwagon they can stand the most. You can’t tell me that all COP people love UNC. The coalition is simply a strategic move to bump the PNM out of office, and by tomorrow we’ll know if they’ve been successful or not. So I decided to do some looking around on how one should consider stepping into the political ring. I’m sure there are many people who would join a party they feel confident about. I also hope that there are a few people out there who would consider starting a new party. That would require being in it for the long haul, but hey if you’re truly serious, why not? I can’t fathom the thought of living through another torturous election campaign, so I really hope there’s an alternative ‘next rounds’. Next elections you might really have to form the party that will make you proud.
“Maybe, for the next elections, we can actually feel absolutely proud in the parties we choose to support”
The easy part of starting a party is assigning a symbol. The difficult part is getting the confidence and being ready for the dedication required to rally support. But if aspiring politicians start from now, maybe we’ll get an alternative in 2015 (if whoever the Prime Minister is doesn’t decide to call it before the end of their term). Maybe, for the next elections, we can actually feel absolutely proud in the parties we choose to support. So in an effort to motivate those who may be prepared to take up the political torch, here are some tips from wikihow on how to get ready.
1. Know why you are serving. Remember Government is about to service to country, not yourself.
2. Practise your public speaking skills. Charisma and conversation are part of politics. Get comfortable with speaking in small groups and on the stage.
3. Make connections in your community with all kinds of people, especially those in a position to help you in your bid for public office. Remember the saying, it’s not who you know, but who know you.
4. Keep up with current events. You can’t live in a bubble; you’ve got to know what’s going on around you so that you can plan your strategies and tactics accordingly.
5. Learn from the past. Understand the trials, mistakes, failures and successes of the country’s previous leaders.
6. Be dedicated to what you are trying to accomplish. If you aren’t willing to apply all your efforts to your goal, you won’t succeed. You also need to prove to your constituents that you have the drive and motivation.
7. Acquire new skills. Join and pursue activities that will help you develop the art of diplomacy and learn the skill of the conversation.
8. Learn from those who have succeeded. Read autobiographies written by Presidents and other successful high officials to give you an idea of where your opinions and beliefs may fit and to learn more about the political process.
9. Start small. Run for local offices, then state-level positions. If you are still in school, run for class office. Build experience in leadership.
Photo “Vote for Me” taken by Karel Mc Intosh at the Richard Rawlins Button Project Exhibition held last Friday at Alice Yard.