Tuesday, September 17, 2013
The assumption in many media boardrooms in Port of Spain is that the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) and Jack Warner will simply fade away. They argue that Mr. Warner simply cannot sustain the effort that is being made now and that this society in any case is a "twenty four hour" society which quickly forgets yesterday's news. And, they argue, the ILP is quickly becoming yesterday's news.
They argue that even if the ILP makes inroads in the upcoming Local Government elections that the electorate will revert back to tribal voting when the bell rings for general elections. They say that even if the ILP does well now that this victory will simply bring home to the tribes on both sides of the political divide that voting for the ILP could very well destroy the PNM/UNC as their vote will simply allow the UNC/PNM to win ... and that would be a tragedy!!
What the "intelligentsia" (for want of a better word) is failing to understand is that what we are seeing on the ground is that the ILP is appealing strongly to "younger" voters, i.e., those under 50. What we are finding is that it is very hard to convince the older voters (over 50) who are "PNM/UNC till ah dead!" These older folk are stuck in their ruts and no amount of logic can get them out. The best that one can hope for when discussing politics with them is "well, I'll think about it", which really means "you haven't changed my thinking but I have no logical or reasonable arguments to rebut yours, so I'll just keep quiet for now."
The younger voters, on the other hand, are resonating with and responding to the ILP's main message which, in one word, is performance. They are saying to us in every corner of Trinidad (sorry, I haven't been to Tobago as yet) from Sangre Grande to Point Fortin, from Port of Spain to Mayaro and everywhere in between, that they are fed up with tribal voting and that they see Mr. Warner as a performer and a man who has risen above the racial divide. They see him as a twenty-first century man who can and will demand that his team performs ... that they work!!
The message that the ILP has been getting loud and clear from the people is that they are fed up with fancy words and empty promises. They couldn't care less about race. What they care about is that whomsoever they put to do a job actually does the job. They are tired of the "blame game". They want action.
And they couldn't care less about the allegations that have swirled around Mr. Warner's head for the last 12 or so years. Their attitude is that there has been more than enough time to charge him. And the fact that no charges have ever been laid speaks more loudly for them than the cries of Mr. Warner's opponents who seem to want to say anything to bring him down.
But you know what? If ILP does only one thing for this country it has done so already, i.e., it has made the other two parties (I simply don't count the COP) wake up and smell the coffee. Our information is that they are beginning to listen to the people ... finally!!
There is an awakening taking place ... a not-so-quiet revolution ... a tsunami in our politics. We are on the verge of really becoming a twenty-first century society where the colour of a man's skin or the texture of his hair really counts for nothing and what really counts ... what is in his heart ... is everything!! But isn't that what we all really have wanted?!?!
Posted by Robin Montano at 10:32 AM
Friday, September 13, 2013
One of the advantages of growing up in San Fernando was learning that Port of Spain was no more representative of how the country thinks and feels than London is typical of England or Paris representative of all things French. Oh! Our capitol city is important in the overall scheme of things and the views held by those in the capitol often have an inordinate sway over opinions that predominate in the print and electronic media. But those who live in Port of Spain frequently have no idea of what things are really like outside of the city and its environs, nor do they have any real idea of the problems that ordinary people face who live outside.
This lack of knowledge frequently is reflected in the print and electronic media, and one often reads social and political commentaries from persons who are intimately familiar with the boardrooms of the banks and wealthy conglomerates, but have no connection whatsoever with the ordinary person. Because they are influential when it comes to the business of money, they believe that their views and opinions are made of gold and precious stones, even when they are badly misinformed. In addition, the media is dominated by vested interests and 'Status Quos' that have absolutely no desire to see any type of change that does not benefit them. (I read somewhere once that the slightest suggestion of change always means death to some status quo).
I am saying all this because I read an article in one of the dailies recently (i think that it was in the 'Express') where the would-be pundit and commentator opined that "one swallow does not a summer make" and basically said (my words) that Jack Warner's victory in Chaguanas West was very likely a flash in the pan and not likely to be repeated. The man took a whole article to say just that!
My answer to the commentator (and to anybody and everybody else who wants to question the ILP's popularity) is don't take my word for it. Get off your tails and go into the country as we have been doing and meet the people. Ask them what they think. Ask them whether they are happy with the status quo and the tribal voting that has dominated this country's politics from the very beginning. Ask them whether they are prepared to vote tribe again. Go ahead! Ask them!! Because I have been asking them. And what I have been hearing and seeing is very, very different from what I have been readin or hearing on the radio.
For the last ten days I have been travelling all over Trinidad as part of the ILP screening committee. We have been to Sangre Grande, Barrackpore, and just about every where else in between. Yesterday we screened candidates for Port of Spain. This afternoon we are doing San Juan/Laventille and then we will have three more screening sessions for Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The ILP has done something different from the other political parties as regards how it goes about screening its candidates. What we have done is rather than make the people come to us, we have gone to them. The advantage to those who were screened is obvious. But the advantage to the ILP is/was that we got out into the country and were able to get first hand the views, not only of the would-be candidates, but the views of the ordinary men and women living in the areas all over the country. It has been extremely tiring for us and not a little stressful, but it has been worth it.
One of the questions that all would be candidates was asked was why do you want to go up as an ILP candidate. What is most interesting is that every single would-be candidate (and so far we have screened more than 400 persons and have about 200 more to screen) has said that they are fed up; they are fed up with tribal politics; they are fed up with the non-delivery of goods and services; they are fed up with the non-representation that they consistently get (or don't get) from their parliamentary and local government representatives. They are fed up with the fact that although both the PNM and the UNC like to cast stones at each other, they are really no different from each other in terms of their performances in government.
They have also told us that they like Jack Warner's brand, which in one word they say is 'performance'. They admire the fact that Mr. Warner works as hard as he does and obviously cares for the people. They like how he is moving and they want to be part of the movement for change that they see sweeping the country.
That (in a nutshell) is what we are seeing and getting from the ground. A little different from what you are reading in the papers, eh?! Well, don't be too surprised at the results on October 22nd. And remember, you read it here first!!
Posted by Robin Montano at 11:00 AM