John Podesta, Co-Chairman of Barack Obama’s transition team, has sent out a huge number of letters to countless stakeholders in the US soliciting their ideas on the content of government after Mr. Obama becomes president. One top Guyanese-American academic received such a letter and I was sent it by e-mail.
On reading it, Mr. Podesta makes it emphatically clear that Mr. Obama will change the way Washington works. It looks like Mr. Obama is set to bring about historic changes in the way power is exercised by the American Government.
When the average person reads about these positive things rich, powerful countries are doing to make their countries freer and more democratic yet in poor backward states like Guyana, where the solicitations of those ideas are urgently needed one can understand why they are in such a hurry to migrate.
They see their country overtaken by wrong politics practised by wrong politicians and destruction is the inevitable result. There is another sordid dimension to the wrong politics of these poor states like Guyana. We will come to that below.
Mr. Obama will be inheriting from January 20, 2009, a deeply frustrated country. American society is clamouring for change at a time when its inhabitants see their powerful economy, an economy that propelled them into world leadership, slowly sinking in a way that spells disaster.
Mr. Obama knows then that he cannot resuscitate American hopes by traditional policies and traditional politics. His direction has to be overwhelmingly inclusive. And Mr. Obama is rushing quickly to embrace the most talented in American society. He has made it known that he wants people from across the political divide to be in his Cabinet. What Mr. Obama is doing is trying to save America’s political economy. Here in Guyana, we have faced the dilemmas that presently confront Mr. Obama long before Mr. Obama dreamt of running for president. And how have we faced the crises?
We try dictatorship rather than inclusive politics. We never learn. We don’t want to learn. Three thousand persons attending the opening of 48th Annual National Schools Championship booed the Prime Minister and forced him to curtail his presentation when he spoke of how the games can unify school children from around Guyana.
They obviously felt angry at the theme of unification because they see policies of the Government that bring about discrimination all the time. And the process is unending and unyielding. As a response to the shouting down, our leaders aren’t going to try the Obama formula. Instead, there will be subtle recriminations and victimisations.
No one in the leadership of the Government of Guyana and the PPP will be bold enough to say, ‘Let us study why after sixteen years these people booed the Prime Minister.’
There will be no such intellectual analysis.
The reaction will be typical of the PPP as we know that party: “They don’t like us. They don’t want us to rule but we gun show dem who gat power.” This has been the story of this country under the PNC with Forbes Burnham and the PPP under Mr. Jagdeo. There is absolutely no attempt to try new approaches to and new ways of politics. For over half a century, Guyana has been practising wrong politics.
I now come to the sordid dimension to which I alluded. Four years down the road, Obama would have at least partially restored the faith of American people in their culture and their economy or at least tried to restore some measure of confidence in the American people. But we here in a Guyana that the Jamaican Prime Minister calls a panhandler, will continue to beg the US and other counties that resort to innovative and encouraging political blueprints to save their societies in times of crises while we refuse to do the same.
We refuse to modernise our political culture. This is where the wrong politics of Guyana becomes so nauseating.
Here you have a new leader in the US who wants to take democracy and justice to greater levels. He succeeds and his country becomes better and brighter. And we wait to share in their prosperity by begging them for more money. It was this type of disgust that led to the exclamation of the Jamaican Prime Minister. It is truly a national disgrace that all Guyanese should be ashamed of.
We are stubborn in the persistence of dictatorship but we live off the money of democratic countries. The same Prime Minister that got booed had the temerity to tell us we should be careful about a Rwanda type situation here should Guyana have private radio stations. Yet Trinidad has 34 such stations and seems far away from having its Rwanda.
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