Sep 22, 2020 Letters
We purport to celebrate democracy in Guyana. I say purport because an honest look confirms that it does not exist to the extent that it should. In contrast, what is present is so fragile and fraught with fulminations as to fall apart at the slightest whiff.
One of the hallmarks of true democracy and an accompanying characteristic is that no matter how terrible the adversarial turmoil engaged in, no matter the pitched rhetorical and propaganda battles fought, and no matter the political antagonisms that raged in the white hot heat of clashes that came, there is always that temperate and wise maturity manifested and great responsibility exercised to avoid the infusion of personal enmity into proceedings. It may be electoral. It could be procedural. It may have been anything on which hinged the success or fate of a special vision or program favored. But political passions never-or should never-deteriorate into the deep personal differences that sabotage the workings of democracy.
Our pervasive political enmities-and it is nothing less-prohibit those in the fray from extending condolences on the passing of fellow fighter in the trenches. Those same enmities, other than for backdoor acquaintanceships (nothing more) here and there, inhibit the frequency and texture of communications so direly needed here to move this society forward. My position has ever been that no single group could successfully carry us forward; racial arrogance inevitably leads to mistakes, on the one hand; and, on the other, racial bitterness contributes to noncooperation (at best) or sabotage (at its worst). At its heart, the compromises for consensus that contributes to cooperation, all pillars of democracy, are conspicuously absent. But it is those very missing links in which we rejoice in the appalling ignorance that has come to characterize governance in this country.
Democracy is the most intricate, that most frail of systems. It is built on compromise and statesmanship. It cannot succeed with either the dogmatic or the vindictive. In Guyana-long a tinderbox, a special case of functioning under the racial sword of Damocles, a case study indysfunctions and contradictions, if ever there was one-the dogmatic and the vindictive are what have been displayed with relish since the official cessation of this year’s elections season in August. There is a studied malice that has decorated governance since a government has been ushered into office. Indeed, I tender that governance has not truly begun, and the politics of elections has not stopped. In the minds of political leaders (and their trusts) as seen and sensed, the elections are still being fought over, with objective being to inflict much damage, to extract harsh prices. I caution against continuing.
There were and are the sweeps for political appointees, an absolutely avoidable denouement on both sides which, from my perspective, disgraced both inquisitors and targets. The same rancor, with equivalent intensity of personal animosity, was brought to bear on appointments related to state boards by those from the opposition. It was more than petty and petulant, simply part of the acrimonious political continuum reeking of raw enmity and intended to be not just wounding, but deliberately humiliating. It is said that it is deserving, but at what price, I ask, given the feeble state of Guyanese democracy? For when such is harboured deep within and then put into sharp practice, the delicate balance of this ideal called democracy is distorted into the unrecognizable.
I submit that when the dictates of prudence are ignored to deliver that which savage opponents, there is toying with the unknown. The thin constraints that hold things together threaten to rent asunder. Cotton Tree is testimony for how such circumstances are easily and viciously, as well as dangerously, exploited. Fragility subtracts from fragility leading to still more instability, even when not palpable, but purely mental.
So, when the Hon. Vice President speaks of engagement being well-nigh impossible because of the absence of any ‘honest interlocutors’ on the opposition’s side, then poison combines with acid and carries the day. The days in Guyana are never dull nor anything less than psychically damaging, as well as socially endangering. I will go so far as to say that there are very few honest people in this country on anything, and most particularly with those wrapped in our political ploys and wiles. This includes the many claiming the same being lacking in foes.
Democracy is not raised to another level, but weakened. Guyana labors, breathes heavily.
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