Saturday, May 22, 2010

Finally, Someone Told Me Who to Vote For

I found this in my inbox yesterday. I was not only flabbergasted I was saddened. This is the desperation of a party that knows it has lost. Its own people are torpedoing their own campaign. Remember what I said about voter turn out. Please read an disseminate.

"Finally, Someone Told Me Who to Vote For…..

This is my fist time voting in a national election in Trinidad and Tobago, so you could say I am a bit of an election virgin.

I have taken on the responsibility very seriously though and I am, no let me correct that, I was, an undecided voter, that is, until yesterday afternoon.

I was at my desk working around lunchtime when I received a call on my business line. It was a PNM constituency representative who was inquiring if I was happy with the way my neighborhood or constituency was being run under the PNM administration.  “Gosh”, I thought to myself, “this is wonderfully pro-active of them. The timing is a little bit obvious but still the intent is there”. I told my interviewer that to be honest I was quite happy with the manner in which my area was being run. I could not speak for other neighborhoods but we were quite happy, we have a constant flow of water, an uninterrupted supply of electricity, good and regular sanitation and a tolerable level of localized crime. “So we can count on your vote then on the 24th?”, she asked with anticipation. My response was simple, “No, I am sorry m’am but unfortunately I don’t think so as I have some serious concerns on the national level.”  

My interviewer was now audibly perturbed and asked if I would rather vote for particular persons on the side of the People’s Partnership (here she began to name individuals one by one and make an unflattering remark on each). I asked her to refrain from doing so and if she wanted to discuss the matter perhaps we could discuss the issues rather than the personalities to begin with. The conversation got a lot better at this point and we discussed areas such as education, water and housing which seem to be popular PNM platforms. I congratulated her on the PNM’s performance in these areas but also mentioned to her that there was no evidence that the People’s Partnership would discard any of these successful endeavors but rather there was actually debate on enhancing their framework.

“Hold on a minute”. I held as instructed, I think I even held my breath.  “I am looking at your last name here and it is Indian. Are you an Indian?” This question of race truly sent me into a tailspin. Had she found my Achilles heel? Was I being combative just because I was against any race other than my own, did I believe that under the PNM, Indians would put amongst the cane once again or subdued with offers of rum and river limes and then while incapacitated be quietly forced onto the steamers heading back to the motherland? My answer – “I am partially Indian m’am but I also have Caucasian, African and Chinese in me and I am very proud to be a true brown son of our multi-racial nation.” Well maybe I didn’t sound that enigmatic but you get the just of it.

In my best Winston Churchill impression I told her that I have never made any decision in my life based on race and I never will.

I don’t think that she believed me so I tried to explain to her the methodology I was utilizing to make a voting decision. I have decided to break down the evaluation process into 3 distinct parts (now this might not work for everyone so you find a recipe that suits you). The 1st two parts incorporate evaluating each party on an individual basis and what it stands for as well as what it hopes to accomplish over the next term. To do this effectively I have gotten hold of both manifestos and I have looked through them at length, comparing, contrasting and trying to make fair judgments.

Thus far my impression is that the manifesto for the People’s Partnership offers far more granularity for the upcoming term while the manifesto of the PNM contains much detail of what has already been achieved. I think that although many may disagree, the PNM is in a unique situation having been in power for the last seven years, as they have a track record from which they can draw. The challenge I have with this is that generally the PNM, as it has done in the manifesto, does not communicate a reference point when it describes the litany of its achievements. What I mean by this is that, did the PNM achieve what it planned, as a matter of fact what was the plan and how does the execution compare to that of the plan? Only with two points of reference can anyone make a fair and objective judgment. Over the last decade, due to the exploitation of our hydrocarbons and the overheating of the international economy, the commodity price of oil and gas (until the financial crisis) rose dramatically and so any government in place would have had a large purse to play with but the real and absolutely critical question one has to ask oneself is whether or not theses funds that belong to the people of Trinidad and Tobago were expended in a manner that added value to the people of Trinidad and Tobago and at all times. In other words, for every dollar spent (whether Yankee or Trinbagonian) are we the country and the people getting more than dollar in return.

To help me understand this better I have even attended a PNM cottage meeting in my constituency as well as a youth meeting for the People’s Partnership and afforded both parties an opportunity to express their views.

So we return to the saga that is my interview and the fact that I was never allowed to explain the first two steps of my methodology as described so eloquently above. What my interviewer did hear was that although I thought her candidate was a very strong option I could not vote for her in good conscience, as I did not agree with her leader. So now she was forced to momentarily listen to the 3rd and final component of my evaluation - the leadership of the party and specifically the PNM.

This offered an easy segue into the area of crime and corruption. I told my now phone buddy that I could not condone much of the PM’s (this means Prime Minister by the way not Project Manager-I just want to make that clear) actions and attacks that have hurt or jeopardized the population. The foremost of these of course was the Udecott debacle and the failure thus far for the authorities to press charges on counts of perjury or otherwise but there are many others such as: the crime rate, interference in the choice of Police Commissioner, the Integrity Commission fiasco, Clico, insider trading, the construction sector war, illegal demonstrations, discrimination against the Maha Saba, emasculation of the EMA, a TT$2M flag of hubris, Tarouba, NAPA, the scholarships of shame, the devastation of the Grand Stand with no replacement, President’s House or what’s left of it, the mansion, the complete neglect of the health facilities, the abandonment of our current plethora of stadia, a licensing office from the dark ages, police stations where officers still write on scrap paper, no digital crime data-basing or local DNA testing, Guanapo religion, a 2 year wait for a new passport, cricket bacchanal, fixed deposits for the Minster of Finance, assault on the independence of the judiciary, empty skyscrapers, unwanted smelters and the Executive Presidency.

Unlike Mr. Rowley and Mr. London, I do not agree that you can vote for a party without voting for its leader; our system of government does not allow it. Mr. Manning has commandeered the party and makes decisions without the involvement of the people’s voice and in many cases contrary to public opinion. The PNM as a party has failed over the last seven years to remove Mr. Manning or control his flagrant disregard for the will of the people. I am not sure how they intend to do this if they win. To me it would seem impossible.
Well you can imagine how my telephone BFF reacted to this one. Although I only mentioned Udecott and not everything else she said that we should give the police service time, as they should not be announcing their findings during an election. I tried to explain that the two should be mutually exclusive but by now I was just saying “Yes m’am” to everything like a chastised school child.

All common sense leaped out of the window. I was told that I should not have ever attended the PNM cottage meeting as that was for loyal PNM supporters and not for people like me. I explained that I actually asked two friends who are PNM supporters if it was appropriate for me to attend and that they encouraged me to do so. They were obviously wrong according to my telephone sweet heart. I had insulted the PNM by going.

She also again expressed her disbelief that I was voting “party” and according to race. All that I could take from this was that she was not listening to anything I had said.

She then told me in no uncertain terms that I was an idealist who was chasing after rainbows, which I would never find, or happiness in life for that matter. Who knew she was my own personal prophetess. “Everyone makes mistakes.”, she said. “You are chasing after fairies”. Of course in hindsight I wish I had the quickness of mind to mention some other idealists like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Gandhi and President Obama. I didn’t - I suck!

“Are you married?” she demanded. “No m’am, not yet.” was my honest reply. “Well you will never get married. You will have to find yourself a virgin!”. Well we all know that those only exist in storybooks and Disney movies so it looks like I am doomed.

Her parting shot was, “I can’t believe you would vote for a drug addict”. Now I am not sure who she meant but I am pretty sure that if anyone who is reading this has family who are braving the difficult road of recovery, you should probably abandon them as according to her, that person is useless.

After all of this and after I found a way to dislodge my battered ego from the crater in the floor I started to become incensed with anger. How can someone who is hoping to illicit your support speak to you that way one you have very politely declined to give it? Is everyone not entitled to his or her own opinion? Do we really now live in a dictatorship where once you don’t agree or acquiesce to the PNM ideology you are castigated, attacked and cast out until you submit or disappear.

My telephone Nazi left me robbed and empty. I was robbed of one of the most basic and most vital covenants of any democracy, the ability to express one’s opinions without fear of recrimination, persecution or discrimination. Are the people of this land no longer considered sovereign and sacred? Do they not realize that whoever wins this race will form a government, which is supposed to represent and be the servants of ALL the citizens of sweet T&T and not just those who voted for them?

It seems that this crucial tenant means nothing to our current administration and the people who support them. This is the most personal and intimate experience that I have had that has proven to me that we are indeed moving towards the acceptance of tyranny.

But surely, even as disillusioned as I was there must be a guiding light, a person to help me throw off this horrendous experience and place faith back in my heart for the PNM. I decided to call the PNM candidate for my constituency and whom I met at the cottage meeting. This is going to change things I said to myself. She can fix this, right?

Well once she realized why I was calling the conversation was short lived. She promised to investigate the matter but also blamed me for engaging the lady on the phone. WHAT?? That can’t be right. This person called me and I was polite and demure the entire time, how in the world, the whole wide world, from the volcano in Iceland to the Points Lisas Estate, is this MY fault? But it was. I was wrong to listen, to be accommodating, to be polite and mannerly as my parents taught me, to allow someone else to put across their point of view and give it due consideration. I guess they are right.

For the rest of our conversation she related to me how she was being attacked by the People’s Partnership on the hustings and told me they were MY people. I don’t think she was really listening.  Maybe I should go and live in a marginal constituency.

Now what should you do? Well, my experience aside, I encourage each and every person to become informed on the stances of the different parties, to learn as much as you can about the issues and become well educated on the proposed policies and plans. Ask hard questions, on both sides. If you want more attend some of the meetings and rallies and listen to the speakers. Satisfy yourself that you have learnt enough and have given BOTH parties a fair shake.

Then and only then make a choice based on sound judgment and logical thinking and for what you believe to be in the best interest of our country. Whatever that decision turns out to be, I stand behind you.

As for me and only for me, I CYAH VOTE FOR DAT!


An insignificant and inconsequential single voter"

1 comment:

  1. Very entertaining! How I wish I had received one of those calls, be that as it may I agree with your last paragraph we all have to vote and be able to have a clear consience after doing so. Like you 'I Cyah vote for dat' either!


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