By Abena Rockcliffe-Campbell
Leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Raphael Trotman is unfazed by critics. He thinks that unless one is familiar with the struggles of politicians “in the trenches” one should not criticise those who are “clawing their way through” the daily struggles.
That was the gist of the response offered by Trotman when asked how the AFC intends to maintain favour with its supporters despite the many criticisms the party faces regularly.
Trotman says that while the critics continue to rave, the reality is that his party continues to grow and continues to record many successes.
He chronicled from the beginning, “when Khemraj, Sheila and I launched in 2005, we were described by one senior political leader as wishy-washy and would amount to nothing.”
Trotman recalled another politician who said that “he was underwhelmed by our appearance on the political scene. Every pundit at the time said that we would have achieved nothing.”
Trotman boasted that just 10 years later, the AFC achieved what no other political party in the history of the Anglophone Caribbean has been able to do as a new party and as a third force. “We rely on history not on critics.”
Trotman then became very passionate and turned to the words of the late Theodore Roosevelt, a former President of the United States of America to express himself.
Roosevelt said, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Trotman said that he has no respect for the critics in Guyana nor does he pay them any attention.
He said, “Come and speak to me if you are in the pit and fighting. But there are people who like to write. They sit at their computers all day and write epistles; they condemn you and write you off but they are not bloodied.”
Trotman admitted that the AFC encounters its challenges and “we may stumble but look at what we have been able to achieve.”
“In 10 years, we have moved from zero to government. But that does not mean we have become complacent; we will rest on our laurels and believe that we have arrived. It is sometimes harder to stay where you are than to get there,” said Trotman.
He also noted that the AFC finds it very challenging to meet all the expectation of its supporters. “We are expected to deliver jobs, to save sugar, to address crime and security and to deliver on the economy.”
Trotman said that the AFC has to try to deliver even as Guyana contends with a global economic downturn. He referenced the economic state of Barbados and Trinidad, two countries that use to be considered leading Caribbean jurisdictions economically.
“They are all coming here to Guyana. While we are decrying the good fortunes of Guyana, the rest of the Caribbean are coming here in droves.”
Trotman said that the AFC is trying its best not to disappoint Guyana, “Yes we will stumble but it is the picking up that matter the most.”
“So we will go to our supporters and ask them to stand with us. There is nothing like a perfect government and coalition governments have their own complexities.”
Trotman said that all the AFC Ministers in Government have been performing well.
He said that despite such performance, critics will continue to criticise. “But I prefer to deal with those who are in the trenches and fighting and understand my cuts and bruises. Those are the ones I will respect and answer to.
“Some people never campaign but they can tell you how to run a good campaign or government but they run anything more than their own offices.”
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