IN TODAY’S EDITION, we include on our back page a report about a political aspirant of Vincentian parentage who has formed a new party with plans to contest the next general elections, constitutionally due by late next year.
Haven’t we heard this story before? It is a story about some ambitious, or bright, or successful, or learned, or wealthy returnee, riding those successes to come back home, form a party and bring “salvation” to our nation. It is always the same, dissatisfaction with the state of affairs and the best way to clean up the mess is to form a party and contest elections.
Sadly our political path is littered with the corpses of many such ventures. They carried all kinds of names, playing on the magic words “democratic” and “people”, but ultimately the fate is the same. This is not to say that they were not well-intentioned, or that their creators did not have noble aims to uplift our country and its people. Indeed some of those caught in this web were people who could have made even greater contribution to the development of our country than they actually did. It is just that the approach was not the most appropriate one.
The reality is, whatever the state of our country at present, these kinds of approaches are precisely what are not needed.
Without any grounding, only a notion that bright, successful, learned, wealthy people can coalesce; look around for “popular” figures in communities; and thus put a slate of candidates together for an electoral jaunt. This approach needs serious rethinking in the context of our realities and political history.
It is the old story of the top-down approach, never a bottom- up one. Relating the many shortcomings: for instance politicians who only can be reached at election time, is no guarantee that the new aspirants will not do the same. Where is the track record, the guarantee of a very different method of operation?
We do not here intend to pour the proverbial cold water on the ambitions of political aspirants. St Vincent and the Grenadines could benefit from a challenge to the old order, to the complacency of the two-party system. The issue is how this challenge is mounted, whether it has roots in the bowels of the struggles of our people for betterment, or whether it simply resides in the heads of a few well-meaning, but misguided individuals.
While we wish all such aspirants the best in their endeavours, we urge a rethink of approach. Is it a party to contest elections or a genuine movement for the long haul, prepared to work along with our people, to side with the masses and community organisations in the frustrating day-to-day struggles? Or is it another attempt at a “quick-fix” which if it does not work, will soon give way to another such product?