THAT question arises for two reasons: First, from the debate on the Saint Lucia constitution proposals as recommended by the Constitution Review Committee. The insults, insinuations and name calling in that debate reminded one of Donald Trump and his often acerbic attacks against Mexicans, foreigners and anyone who does not support his candidacy for the 2016 American presidential elections. ‘Don’t cross me; this is my territory’ seems to be the message from the Donald.
Why does Trump get away with his bombast while politicians here who love to mimic America are not as free to express their opinions? And if there has been enough name calling here, who will stop to it? It seems a little ingenious to want to crucify Guy Joseph who calls it as he sees it, and avoid a closer examination of the issues he raises. Did Guy Joseph go too far when he recently welcomed an important person whom he called a former bus driver to our shores?
The thing which strikes an observer to primary election campaigning in America is how deeply divisive and firmly embedded the two-party system is. The fight for the party’s nomination for president is often rough, bruising and dirty. American politicians have no mercy for each other. The British are no different, perhaps, only a little more subtle. The funny thing is that differences between political parties and politicians in America are real. Unfortunately, the in-depth debate in America which exposes fakes and undesirables allows the voter to choose wisely. This is absent in sweet Saint Lucia.
Too much of political trash talking on this island is superficial crap. There is no depth, or logic or scientific research or pointing reasoning in political exchanges here. Much of it is emotional stuff aimed at emotional appeal rather than an appeal to reason and to the intellect. Sadly, for as long as the level of ignorance remains at its present high level, expect more trash, not less, from politicians of all shades of grey – or brown.
It’s the high percentage of ignorance, compounded by illiteracy, responsible for the poor quality of leaders. Those who can strike a note for enlightenment are too scared or too poor to do so. Not surprisingly, a leader, who is afraid of the public press and hides instead behind his press secretary, may be a fraud. This is especially true if that secretary has had his medical bills paid and is often taken on joy rides, to places where he would not pay to visit.
The difference between the two main political parties in America – the Republicans and the Democrats – is clearer on issues such as Immigration, the Iran/US deal, ISIS, the size of US government, family planning and birth control, gay rights and same sex marriage, national security and foreign relations. Can we honestly make such clear distinctions between the SLP and the UWP on these issues? What about the Chastanet haters in the UWP? Where do they stand on these issues? Besides, why criticize Guy Joseph without stating a contrary opinion on the issues he raises? Furthermore, on what ideological grounds a newcomer who was done nothing to help the cause of the UWP, now challenge Allen Chastanet? Why was the argument ‘Kocher’ for Claudius Preville and not for another?
One major difference between US politics and the politics of this island is in the way political news is reported and interpreted. In the USA there are radio and television personalities who support one party or the other. These media people do not pretend to be objective and balanced. For these, it’s all about ‘their’ party. There is no hypocrisy, no pretense, and no bull. Over here it’s all of the above and more. And only a very small minority of callers attempt objective analysis and fact telling. How many here dare to be objective and truthful, with no axe to grind? Perhaps the problem here is in small minds and large poverty.
We pretend objectivity and truthfulness whilst we slant the news or the discussion ever so slightly, to the side which we favour. Some may see nothing wrong with this, but really? To pretend to be objective when one is clearly not deceitful. And deceit is the foundation of every crime including rape. He who deceives aims to do much more; to steal, to vulgarize and to rape and perhaps murder.
Anyone who follows Donald Trump in the US ‘primary season’ cannot help but admire the man’s brashness, his candour, even his excesses. He is pushing the envelope and politicians who want change should never be afraid to do like Trump. Gentlemanliness is damned. Over here we are squeamish when it suits us.
Saint Lucian politicians, especially discredited ones, make an art of hiding behind easily manipulated minions. Often, the deceit is carried to disgraceful lengths as if to make their opponents be seen responsible for their failures. One can only hope that the electorate (including party delegates), are learning fast and that when they shall be put to the test, they will choose wisely the men and women who are not afraid to call a spade a spade in this little hypocritical ‘Helen of the West.’
Perhaps the most important item in campaigning for a new US President is money. To the average American, money is the name of the political game. In Saint Lucia and the Caribbean it is increasingly so. And the new cash cow is the multi-millionaire in search of a diplomatic passport beneath which they can hide anything dirty. Every drug king pin needs a VIP passport to the USA.
By the way does anyone know whether the bus driver who Guy spoke about gave a donation to you know who? This island never ceases to amaze me. It’s one of only a few places where a flat-belly, hungry-looking radical can be transformed into a grotesque elephant by politics? So why shouldn’t we like politics? Besides, a little red wine never does any harm.
The sources of campaign finance in the US remain largely hidden although new laws have made it more difficult for politicians to hide their sources. Some US candidates receive financial support from these new super pacts, (a handful of multi-millionaires), while others received broad financial support from a large base of small contributors. Donald Trump says he has his own money, but few believe him.
Our system of raising money for elections is different in the Caribbean. It is more covert, therefore more secretive and more dangerous. The selection of a political leader to lead a party to battle in a general election is different here than in the USA. If the leader fails, he is to resign forthwith. If he is smart, he obeys his party rules and vanishes. The same applies in America, although no one cares whether a failed presidential candidate resigns from the party or not.
In Saint Lucia the contest is narrower than in the US. With increasing shouting and negative advertisements local politicians seemed to have picked up from America politics, their negative advertisements. In that regard, Allen Chastanet’s public relations team must analyze for the benefit of Saint Lucia, the reason for the shrill noises from the SLP. He must at the same time remove his gloves and go for broke, summoning his Irish blood, as George Odlum once did.