Feb 26, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News – It is said that put two rabbis in a room, give them one issue, and there is sure to follow three opinions that incorporate inflexible positions. Leaving the religious component out, this sounds similar to where Guyanese political leaders and groups are, but with a twist. There is very little of anything on which those same Guyanese could agree.
It may not be an exaggeration to take the position that Guyanese political leaders cannot – and will not agree – on absolutely anything that relates to governance of this society. They refuse to listen to any well-meaning positions from concerned citizens that this is not the way to be and to go, and that compromise must be found on the major issues of the day. It is understood and accepted that the warring groups and their talking heads will quickly agree on the need for unity and for togetherness on the Venezuelan border controversy. But those two burning issues automatic and no-brainers. For any group and political figure to take another position would be the equivalent of a political kiss of death. Yet even as we think so and say so, there is the nagging belief that since their supporters are so impassioned and driven by party cause and cult leadership, even going against the grain on national unity and national oneness over the border controversy may not amount to much of a risk.
It is for these very reasons that our leaders can afford to disagree on anything and everything of substance, because they know full well that they can get away with such irresponsibleness and foolishness. A standing example, a classic if there ever was one, is this practice by new governments that take the reins from those consigned to the ranks of the opposition. All the major projects are halted, sometimes reversed at great expense. This is how much the poor struggling taxpayers’ dollars matter to our political rulers out to prove a point. That is, how unthinking and unconstructive the other party was, while how wise and prudent they are.
Developments and arrangements that appear to be on a sound footing, and with many obvious benefits for this society, are ignored, or left behind, or discarded altogether. Nobody cares about the cost in dollars wasted, the time lost, and the people forced to spend more and wait longer. It would seem that some of the material disagreements that take shape and come into fruition are for the sole purposes of sticking it to the predecessor group, and make them look like bumbling beginners. Some of these situations and positions taken by successor political leadership in Guyana assume all the aspects of disagreeing for the sake of disagreeing.
Now contrast this to what happens in other parts of the world, especially the developed and advanced societies. To be sure, there is partisanship that can be rancid and robust to the point of unmoving rigidness. But there are those moments when political ranks are closed, and the goods are delivered to the timely and lasting benefit of larger society. From time to time, the Democrats and Republicans have learned to do just that in America, because the elected representatives from both sides know that they have a savvy and vigilant electorate waiting to make them pay for the error of their ways. And so ways are found to agree to make things work, be it on the COVID-19 pandemic relief measures, the defeating of partisan resistance to the passage of the elections results, or the confirmation of cabinet officers of the new Biden Administration. In the United Kingdom, there has been digging-in over Brexit, and along the lines of the traditional Labour and Conservative divide on favoured priorities. But a way is always found to overcome objection and disagreement, when the big-ticket items are under review and up for decision.
The big-ticket issues in Guyana that beg for agreement are how to go about managing our natural resources wealth most effectively, what to do in a concerted approach to crime, what better stand to take in the face of the Venezuelan menace, and where to begin in a national conversation that leads to racial and social reconciliation. These are neither simple nor secondary issues, but of the highest magnitude, and most urgent priority. Yet each political group in this country doggedly refuses to engage the other, do not listen to each other, and is content to go it alone, while leaving a trail of disagreement behind. It does not bode well for the future. It does not hold out the promising for Guyana or Guyanese, and this is regardless of which side of the divide they find themselves. In many respects, profound and comprehensive agreements have been the essence of human progress. Just don’t tell that to any political leader here.
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