On the always intriguing, ever evolving, local political front, a former president just the other day announced that he is not going anywhere. As a powerful party presence, it would be difficult for the Young Turkmen and aspiring Wonder Women in the group to dislodge such a formidable stalwart from his stance or to usher him, in his now golden years, towards a silver sunset. Not him. Not with any political group here. He is contemplating returning.
On the other hand, and in a familiar, standard bearing place, men who have served enduringly, if not with some distinction, announce that it is time to ride off into the sunset, and to make way for the next generation of political manipulators and wrestlers; and, it dared be hoped, the emergence of an ennobling, groundbreaking figure.
Though the departing have not come forward to publicly denounce the leader of their party and head-of-state, there is considerable dismay with what they have heard and come to detest intensely.
The thinking is enough. The hope is that somewhere out there, there should be someone from amongst them, who could rise into the next towering political maestro to orchestrate success through inspiring, idealistic leadership.
So, they make way. They pack their bags and go. That is not happening here, never has. Instead, men did in their heels and wait for another turn of the wheel, one more deep bite in the bigger, richer apple that is today’s Guyana. Fortune favours those with fancy footwork, age notwithstanding.
Meanwhile, in the United States, 18 members of the House of Representatives have announced they won’t be running in 2020 for any public office. This includes (note the skew) 14 Republicans and four Democrats.
In a time of ascendancy in the executive and powerful Senate, men and women are saying goodbye. Many of the retirements were announced over the last several weeks, including those that were issued by six Republicans in Texas. Among those leaving Congress are two of House Republicans’ 13 women, including the female lawmaker that was tasked with recruiting more conservative women and minorities to the body.
So far, four members of the Senate have confirmed publicly that they would not be running for re-election in 2020, among them three Republicans. The Democrats have a chance of triumphing in the legislative houses, but that is not the thrust today. Rather, it is less of who is staying, and more of how has decided it is time to leave.
It might be because of disillusionment with the state of American governance, or of tiredness with the failure of so much, or simply the warnings and calls of advancing age. Advanced age has neither relevance nor traction in Guyana.
In the US, Ronald Reagan arrived at the White House with the supposedly spritely vigor associated with octogenarians back then in 1979; widely accepted was his cerebral clarity, too. Whatever it was, by the time he left, two terms later, he was shadow and caricature of the out-of-touch, easily manipulated, and a lost cowboy reliving the manmade legends of Hollywood.
Senator Strom Thurmond ended up the same way. Stated differently, a consistent grip on reality proved problematic, if not outright elusive at times.
There is a lesson in those examples from over there. Sometimes men stay too long. Still, nobody is listening here. Because, as elsewhere, and no less so in Guyana, “power is an aphrodisiac” which Henry Kissinger did proclaim. It is the most powerful, electrifying one here.
Nobody retires here. The longer men stay, the sweeter they realise the prize, the better they get at misleading (or mesmerising) the public with their deceptions and shallowness. They get very good at marketing and spouting those hypocrisies about democracy, transparency, unity, and incorruptibility (their own).
Since Guyanese swallow the latter, hook, line and sinker (from all the stinkers), they feel empowered and entitled to stick around and continue their usual barbarities. No accountability; there is another stock word bandied about casually.
There is no reason to relinquish the thrill of supplicants coming for favour, or the power trips and power kicks, or the exploitations that can be extracted from physical presences and circumstances. It can be–and has been–a largely politically predatory world.
Why retire and give up those side perks? The ones only whispered knowingly about and on the sly? The pasture is not an option ever considered locally.
The duty -free concessions, the access, the sweetheart real estate arrangements, the rich pension package.
As the record in Guyana can attest, there are many such sweethearts and numerous such deals. Retire? And do what? Collect a nice, sweet pension only? Where is the fun and power in that? Coming in from the cold, age notwithstanding, is also too inviting to be denied.
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