Our Readers' Opinions
November 27, 2009
Condemned by history


EDITOR: November 25, 2009, has condemned us into the dungeons of history. We have squandered a golden opportunity to finally rid ourselves of the remnants of colonialism.{{more}}

We have shown our inability to independently carve our niche within a post-colonial global community. In no way should this referendum’s results be seen as a victory for any one person or group but as an indictment on us as a people.

Given the present political culture, it would be ambitious to envision a successful referendum during our lifetime. Indeed, not until this venomous brand of politics and polarised politicians fade into distant memory.

Justifiably, the two major political parties should shoulder the brunt of the blame. Their open political warfare has inflicted numerous casualties. However, the hierarchy of the NDP should be roundly condemned for waging a venomously negative campaign that was not in our national interest.

Among these casualties were party fanatics of “red” and “yellow” persuasions, a hapless majority of working class Vincentians and a splintered religious group with certain missionary zeal. The latter two were shrewdly manipulated into propagating ignorance. Their leaders exploited the weaknesses of the drafter’s plan to effectively ensure that the referendum failed. Some of their absurd claims include:

1. No more general elections if the referendum is passed

2. Removing the queen would mean a devaluation of our currency

3. The new constitution reduces the rights of Vincentians

What I find fascinating was the way semantics was craftily coined to woo support. Indeed, most of the arguments put forward were misleading in intent.

One of the most misleading arguments was propagated by the Thusian Institute. They claimed that the Constitution is weaker if the number of votes for future referendum is reduced from 67 per cent to 60 per cent. Whilst ostensibly that may be the case, when one examines our polarised political landscape, isn’t it more practical/logical that the numbers be reduced? The group further stated:

“This move resembles communism by making it easier for the constitution to be changed in the future”.

Such an argument is lame and baseless. How can such a democratic move resemble communism? Are the Thusian people implying that they do not have any confidence in the collective will of 60 per cent of the masses? It is time we stop this crap of pushing the communist tag to demonise our Prime Minister. Heck, the Berlin walls were torn down 20 years ago!

The roles played by religious and business groups and civil society organisations were simply abysmal. In a mad rush, everyone (oops! Many of us) hastily slipped into partisan clothing and thereby prejudiced what could have been a fruitful and rewarding national exercise. In a referendum needing an insurmountable target of 67 per cent to be passed, politics was placed before people and self before country.

The extravagance of the government during the last month’s mad rush cannot be ignored. Conveniently waving $200 packets to each Vincentian scholar at a time of national confusion and mistrusts was tactless, to say the least. Even if the gesture was noble and genuine, the timing begs a lot of questions. Additionally, relieving the national coffers of $4 million to commission party loyalists on a “yes” campaign was myopic and lacked economic prudence. Most of these “yes” workers were woefully ill-equipped and uninformed as messengers of constitutional reform.

Where do we go from here as a confused and disillusioned people? Do we continue to place our undying trust in a failed system or do we look beyond for our redemption? One thing remains certain – the road to healing and reconciliation starts with us.