Our Readers' Opinions
April 5, 2016
Whither goeth our democracy? – Conclusion

Here, in no strict order, are some of the things we must be willing to change:

Remember that in a democracy it is one man, one vote and the vote is secret; that is why they put you behind a screen at the polling station to mark that “X”. So, there is no reason to paint political symbols on our bodies and deface public and private property in the name of our party. There is no reason to broadcast how we intend to vote or to be wearing red and yellow robes. There is already a call to divest ourselves of our party robes and put on the robes of State and nation building.{{more}}Remember that the vote is sacred. It is not a commodity to be sold to the highest bidder. With all the reports of bribery and distribution of goods in exchange for votes, you cannot blame the politicians. If people were willing to stand up and refuse the goods and vote their conscience, there will be no audience for goods distribution and the practice would have to end. So, blaming this on the politicians of whatever stripe is unfair.

We have to be prepared to accept the fact that a democratic society is a pluralistic society and multiple political views and political parties must be allowed to thrive in peace and harmony. We need to dose ourselves heavily with tolerance and respect, peaceful and educated debates and a willingness to agree to disagree. We need to stop shouting out the other views; they all have a place in the political milieu, or we will all stagnate. We still need to learn how to be humble in victory and accepting in defeat.

We have to come to terms that in a democracy power lies with the people and not the politicians. In a democracy, politicians hold power at the will and behest of the people. If the politicians hold absolute power, you do not have a democracy, you have a dictatorship. Therefore, you do not need the politicians; they need you for that almighty weapon you received through adult suffrage, your vote. Be prepared to use it ruthlessly, to send messages where messages are necessary, to whichever party is sending unfair and unwanted vibes. There is no crime in changing your political allegiance from one election to another, because circumstances change over time and you are free to adjust and vote accordingly. This will be easier to do if you were less vocal and less demonstrative of your political affiliations and if you live in peace with your neighbours.

We have to shake off the hold that our political affiliations have over us. We should not let politics be the main definition of who we are. We have to learn to say no. When politicians call us to assemble in an attempt to show political might and support against their foes, we cannot continue to follow like polite sheep or like mindless robots to every demonstration, blockade or any whim or fancy of our political leaders. It is so easy to get caught up in an emotionally charged situation, but we have to learn to keep our sanity and our independence and become more rational in our thinking and our actions. This is easier said than done, but we have to understand that we are being manipulated and we must send the message that we are in control of our lives and our actions. When we hear politicians sending negative messages or engaging in the gutter politics that so much was recently written about, we have to disassociate ourselves and not succumb to the cheap laughs when others are ridiculed. We have to elevate ourselves to a higher moral fibre and in so doing we will raise the bar and others would be forced to be elevated to our new standard.

We have to understand that politics is more than just voting at election time, flying the party flag, wearing the party colours, splashing political graffiti around and shouting out all other views but that of our party. We have to demand a say in day-to-day politics. We have to demand a strong local government presence where decisions are made at the local level for the common good. We have to demand that the party of our choice enact policies and eventually laws that reflects our views and desires. Case in point is the 2010 elections, when three teachers who resigned their jobs to run on the NDP ticket lost in their effort and were not given back their jobs and it was quickly declared that it was because they supported the NDP and it was discrimination. Given the history of the 1950s and 1960s this should not have come as a surprise. In Canada, persons in the public service, and even in the private sector, can take a leave of absence to run for political office and return to their former positions if they are unsuccessful. It is a well defined and accepted process. If that is what Vincentian society aspires to, then the people must work to ensure that laws are enacted to allow this to happen and there would be no argument. Those three teachers knew full well that once they resigned their positions to run for the NDP, should they fail to be elected and should the NDP fail to form the Government their jobs would be toast. So, there is no use to be crying over spilt milk. While we empathize over the loss of their jobs, they knew that there were no guarantees. The lesson is that we need to be more involved in establishing laws and ground rules that would govern how our democracy should work, rather than leave it all up to the politicians to decide for us and make rules on the fly.

The nation needs a dose of love. We must bring an end to the bitter enmity that exists between political opponents, the political rifts in our families, churches, communities and our nation. We are a society steeped in hate and it consumes us in negative ways. Love is the antidote of hate. Read the Good Book; it says: Make love your aim, for love is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own and hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing. These words hold many messages for us.

So, perhaps it is time for some church leaders, young and educated, politically motivated individuals, people in the society, like Brother Rose and Adrian Fraser, who commented on the political malaise, to start the debate on a new direction for our democracy. Perhaps it is time for our people to grow out of their political infancy. As the Good Book says: When I was a child, I spoke like a chid, I acted like a child, I reasoned like a child; but now that I am an adult, I give up my childish ways. So, let us spread some love across the nation and act like political adults. Let prophets arise from among us to lead us out of this political darkness and bring us into a new era of enlightenment. Awake from your slumber, arise from your deep sleep and, if necessary, let us be prepared to rally around a new crop of enlightened politicians and leave the outmoded crop behind. Sixty-five years after adult suffrage it is long overdue.

Oswald Fereira


I imagine that these articles may have offended politicians and their supporters on all sides of the political spectrum. Let me assure you that no offence, ridicule or insults were intended. If I offended all equally, then, as I said at the outset, I was not blowing a trumpet for one side or the other. I do not profess to have the answers to the present political malaise, I am no messiah. But, after reading of the political malaise and reminiscing back to state of politics in my childhood, I felt bound to write about my experience and draw comparisons to the malaise of today. It is my sincere hope that the discussions that are needed will occur and the changes required to better our democracy will be implemented and that the healing that is so necessary to restore peace and harmony to the nation will occur in order to enable us all to exist with each other, regardless of our political beliefs and affiliations. My sincere hope is that 2020 will not be a repeat of 2015 and will be a turning point in our democratic development. May the Good Lord guide you through this endeavour.