The New Today

Commentary

The Patriotic Vine…. New age politics

The signs are troubling! Grenadian politics has entered another dangerous, demonising phase. The evidence is mounting rapidly. A duty falls on some of us to call out those who are sowing the seeds of political instability which, like poverty, is an enemy of development.

Incidentally, poor and lazy people cannot develop a country. Development requires leaders and thinkers.

The ‘pre-Independence generation’ which nursed political violence at the hands of Gairy’s Mongoose gang grew into a ‘Revolution generation’ which took political violence to its most tragic depths. Yet, today’s ‘ageing generation’, seems to have learned nothing or is indifferent about ruthlessness in Grenadian politics. It is a psychosocial characteristic that the leaders need to avoid and set a better example.

How is it that in 2021, Grenadians who are fifty and sixty and seventy can claim to embrace democracy but are openly intolerant of divergent views and willing to deny basic rights such as freedom of speech and freedom of association?

Since when there is no place for political commentators in the society so that one should shut up unless one is prepared to be a candidate in elections? Clearly, that is a short step from saying… close the courts!

How can it be that the promise of roads ‘paved with gold’ is sufficient to turn a blind eye to rampant abuses? How can it be that even after the experience of Bernard Coard, intellectual superiority is celebrated over the essentials of good character?

How can it be that to point out weaknesses in one’s offer of leadership is to be guilty of jealousy?

How can it be that saying a person is a ‘Remnant of the Revolution’ (meaning a revolutionary who survived the demise of the Revo) generates such ferocious venom in her/his spirit?

How can it be that saying one who was a member of the NJM, then NDC and now TGM is a politically-mobile person should cause one to breed reticence in one’s heart?

How can it be that to recognise an individual’s policy-making talent and intellectual capacity but to draw attention to his character flaws is so infuriating that one knowingly hatches and publishes shameful lies about another?

All of this seemed to make no sense, until I recalled that person’s scathing attack on Maurice Bishop during his inquisition at Butler House just before he was placed under house arrest. Back then the beneficiary was Bernard Coard; today it is Patrick Antoine! Eventually, Bernard claimed moral responsibility; will Patrick?

To defend a just cause is honorable. To smear another’s character in the name of any cause is downright dishonourable. To revive one’s revolutionary fervour for the purpose of denuding the integrity of others is to reopen Stalin’s playbook of callous inhumanity.

Having revealed the identity of the assailant elsewhere, I find that my dominant emotion is one of pity!

The coming TGM party is said to be about “change”! Time we learn that change is primarily a character issue! Just like a ‘standard of care’, there is a ‘standard of change’.

Importantly, in discussing character issues in the context of political leadership, one ought not to attack another’s morality or lifestyle. The principal concern is one’s attitude towards others; one’s treatment of people; one’s integrity and one’s belief that bright ideas are all that matter. Wrong! That is a replica of the Bernard Coard model and must be resisted vigorously!

The enlarged pool of Grenadian sons and daughters with higher education is to be celebrated. With that comes the capacity to generate ideas, to do better in business and to negotiate difficulties, among other things. But if disturbing character flaws are not remedied or mitigated then a painful price will be paid as happened in October 1983!

Leadership calls forth character. Development calls forth capacity. The two must work in unison. Policy does not push politics; it is politics that pulls policy.

‘Empire thinking’ (my party ruling things) by which some people see winning elections as a prize for themselves and are therefore unwilling to collaborate with others, actually retards the best interests of the nation.

There is every good reason and justification for us to put our practice of politics on a more decent footing. The New Future ahead of Grenada requires that we learn from the past and resolve to engage and interact in ways that are just, fair, positive and beneficial. Competition ought not to breed conflict! Contrary views ought not to preempt consensus!

We will not be able to deliver “good government” to the citizens with ‘Empire thinking’ and with partisan and personal biases. ‘Good government’ is a requirement placed on the Parliament in the Constitution regarding the making of laws. It applies equally to Executive practice whereby decisions of ministers must not harm the interests of the citizen or sections of the population.

The goods and services made available by Government must be allocated without discrimination or favouritism. Cabinet decisions should not cause unrest among the people. Such is the measure of “good government”.

Notice the critical role character is required to play in providing “good government” to the people. Enlightened governance oils the process. Without it we will be at each other’s throats! There will be no unity!

Grenada may have roads and buildings, but many citizens will lose their souls along the way. That is bad news! That is not what we want! That is not good for Grenada!

William Joseph