A New and United Guyana (ANUG)’s chairman, Timothy Jonas, has taken me to task for what he interprets as my electoral preference for the proverbial lesser of two evils. He opines that to do so is to hide from one’s conscience. He further argues that the solution is to vote for a Third Party.
I am in sympathy with Mr. Jonas’ position. After all, I have been an active member of a Third Party for the last 40 years. I have always believed that there is a role for Third Parties in Guyana; it is one of the reasons that I have never considered leaving the party of which I am a member. And contrary to the views of many, I strongly believe that there is a critical mass of support for Third Parties that is not reflected at the ballot box.
Mr. Jonas and I seem to disagree on the role of Third Parties. He seems to think that the role of these parties is to try to bring the two big parties together in a power-sharing arrangement—at least this is his party’s main political plank. In other words, ANUG and Mr. Jonas want to bring the two “evils” together. I wonder how much that differs from working in partnership with the lesser of the two evils.
My conscience is very clear about my electoral choice of the Coalition. Note, I stress my “electoral” choice. Because as I pointed out in my November 10 column, there is a lot about the Coalition with which I am uncomfortable. But I am making an electoral choice based on factors beyond my personal preferences. I am thinking about where the country is. The vast majority of Guyanese are reluctant to empower a Third Party to govern Guyana on its own. So, what do we do—wait until they change their minds? Some of us have waited for four decades and more.
We in the WPA have determined that Third Parties should not only be pressure groups, but that they should also become part of governance—they should do both. We have also concluded that since the two big parties are not ready to form a Government of National Unity, we should engage the one that has shown a more enlightened attitude to inclusivity. The truth of the matter is that whereas the PPP has said clearly that for them inclusivity means joining the PPP, the PNC has defined inclusivity as partnership.
It is this attitude to inclusivity that gives me hope and has influenced my electoral choice. The PNC is part of a Coalition, while the PPP adamantly remains in a single-party arrangement. It is true that the PNC has to some extent sought to treat the Coalition as if it were a one-party arrangement. But even that does not totally diminish the fact that the Coalition is more than mere form. It is a work in progress.
The PNC’s leadership will always try to exercise hegemony within the Coalition, but the stark reality is that the train has already left the station—there is a whole generation of younger voters which has grown up with APNU and the Coalition.
I have already opined that the evolution of the Coalition has brought to the fore the plurality of political tendencies within the Coalition’s base and extended supporters. It means that no single party within the Coalition can claim sole ownership of that base. People respond to both the party of their choice and to the Coalition as a whole.
There is a strong tendency that views the Coalition through dogmatic PNC partisan lens. But there is another tendency that sees the Coalition through an independent lens. They respond to different ideological poles within the Coalition. I belong to the independent pole and would like to think that along with others of that persuasion, we provide leadership to supporters of that tendency.
Those who continue to portray the Coalition as PNC, are trying to be smart without being clever. They are signaling to Indian Guyanese that if they vote for the Coalition, they would in effect be voting for the PNC. And they are signaling to African Guyanese and Amerindians who are not naturally PNC, but open to the Coalition, that the parties in the Coalition to which they look for leadership are really PNC surrogates.
They are trying to exploit the deep anti-PNC sentiments in the Indian Guyanese community. It is for the same reason that they portray the AFC and WPA as being part of the PNC. The intention is to influence the PNC to take hardline positions against their junior partners and force a breakup of the Coalition or for the WPA and AFC to leave the Coalition. These persons and forces know that without the Coalition, the PNC is electorally vulnerable and the other Coalition parties will be severely weakened at the polls.
Mr. Jonas correctly pointed to several instances of overreach by the Coalition government, and seeks to equate these with massive excesses of the PPP government. This is a clear case of arriving at a conclusion and then fixing the evidence to suit that conclusion. I do not think Mr. Jonas is blind, but I know he knows better. The Coalition’s human rights record is far more superior than the PPP’s.
I stand by my choice. Since the column last week, I have received several letters and notes from readers thanking me for helping to clarify for them how to proceed on March 2, 2020. These are all disgruntled Coalition supporters who are sitting on the fence. They are Never-PPPers, but they are inclined to stay away from the polls. As I argued last week, that course of action should not be an option. Sometimes one has to choose between two less than ideal options or what Mr. Jonas calls the lesser of two evils. One evil would have no check, while the other one will have at least minimal checks.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper)
More of Dr. Hinds’ writings and commentaries can be found on his YouTube Channel Hinds’ Sight: Dr. David Hinds’ Guyana-Caribbean Politics and on his website www.guyanacaribbeanpolitics.news. Send comments to [email protected]
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