BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – FOR quite some time I had been pondering on a headline for this commentary that expresses my views, opinions and perception of politics. However, after numerous attempts, I finally decided to use the one above, which was told to me by a colleague that it befits the topic of discussion.
This commentary is not intended to point fingers at any specific individual or political party, but to highlight what some politicians do to get into office or to remain there during election campaigns.
Firstly, we must ask ourselves: “What is politics?”
This writer perceives politics to be a very broad subject matter but, for simplicity, the Merriman-Webster Dictionary defines it as “the art or science concerned with winning and holding control over a government”.
In furtherance of a definition, Wikipedia states: “Politics is a set of activities associated with the governance of a country or an area. It involves making decisions that apply to members of a group. It refers to achieving and exercising positions of governance - organized control over a human community, particularly a state.”
In late 2014, while in discussion with a group of approximately 16 persons of both sexes and varying ages, politics was the agenda and the majority had perceived it to be “the dirtiest profession in the world”.
I begged to differ and offered my perception in which I stated: “Politics is a honourable profession but is being practiced by many dirty people.”
That had sparked a vigorous and enlightening debate that resulted in the older faction of the group making reference to good governance and the fight against colonialism by some past political leaders in the Caribbean.
Among the names mentioned were those of the five B’s and one W – Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw of St. Kitts and Nevis; Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham of Guyana; William Alexander Clarke Bustamante of Jamaica; Errol Walton Barrow of Barbados; William Henry Bramble of Montserrat; and Eric Eustace Williams of Trinidad and Tobago.
The older faction claimed that those now defunct individuals were superb political thinkers with an arsenal of leadership qualities that kept them and their parties well.
The Caribbean Region
In the Caribbean it is a known fact that opposition leaders and their parties’ activists will always target those in office with the aim of convincing the electorate that they (governments) are visionless, of jejune leadership and often sacrifice principles at the altar of political expediency. They will even go as far as to say that some of the leaders and ministers in government exhibit a nasty display of venality.
On the other hand, those in office regularly blame the previous administration for their failures. They are often heard saying that many of the promises made in their manifestos were impeded by bad governance of the previous administration.
It is a truism that during election campaigns politicians will attempt to gain the support of the electorate through promises. But while promises are indeed the most important factor that assist them in getting into office, the electorate must understand that it is highly improbable for any government to fulfill all of them during its first term in office.
While in campaign mode, the public would see many politicians bedecked in silken garments with angelic smiles written their faces visiting their homes with the aim of gaining their support.
That is the time when they would listen to the people’s problems and issues and promise to have them resolved should they either be reelected or elected to office.
Ironically, most of them are the same politicians, some of whom were incumbents, who had never met or spoken individually to many of those people within their constituencies, unless they were party affiliates.
Many people have complained that visits would cease after some of those politician are elected, and that the bureaucratic system impedes them whenever they attempt to visit ministers at their office to resolve an issue or something of importance in a timely.
Politicians and the Media
During election campaigns, politicians depend heavily on the media to get their messages to the electorate. This is done through paid advertisments and the airing of their public meetings.
That is the time when politicians on both sides of the divide will embrace not only the media houses, but also their reporters, especially those that are sympathetic to their cause.
Apart from advertisments, politicians will regularly issue press releases on forthcoming events laced with subliminal messages, as well as propagandistic article with condemnatory words to describe the views of their opponents.
Also during that period, they will seek to have loyalists within media houses who would unhesitatingly respond to their beck and call, as well as publish their rhetoric.
Further, this brand of politicians will respond to calls made by reporters, even in the dead of night, to provide answers to pertinent questions concerning their parties or those of their opponents.
But the fact remains that when some of those politicians are either elected or reelected, reporters can no longer reach them. And if by chance they finally do, those big wigs in the corridor of power would either say: “I’ll get back to you on that”, which they seldom do, or “I’m not aware of that and therefore cannot offer a comment”. Also, when caught at press conferences, they either skirt around or adroitly answer ‘hard’ questions.
St. Kitts & Nevis
We are now into the last quarter of 2019 and the inevitable Federal Election is rapidly approaching, which means that election campaign will probably commence in January, if not before.
That is the time when the nation will be hearing much sleaze and character assassination; that is the time when the nation will be hearing allegations of corruption, nepotism, discrimination and cronyism; that is the time when the nation will be fed unfettered propaganda and made to develop opinions that are severely flawed and self-destructive; that is the time when fingers of blame will be pointing; that is the time when the nation will hear which political party lacks intellectual ideas and good leadership; and that is the time when the nation will hear which political party is facing its twilight.
Both the Tri-Party Team Unity and the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party have predicted victory in the upcoming election, based on surveys conducted by two renowned Jamaican pollsters earlier this year.
The twin-island Federation has many educated and intelligent people, and they, the voting population, are the ones who have the final say in electing a government they believe would have their interest at heart and would ensure prosperity for all.
It is therefore advisable that whenever house-to-house visits commences, ask questions about personal, community and national development, abd force them to provide answers. And during public political meetings, listen attentively to future realistic plans and policies so as to decide on your candidates to take you forward.
However, in so doing, “Beware of those Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing”.