The Economy, Stupid

By Dr. Selwyn R Cudjoe
September 19, 2008

Obama, McCainLast week’s article drew some interesting comments. I asserted that in spite of the bump in the polls the Republican Party received because of Governor Sarah Palin’s presence on the ticket, ultimately “the performance of the US economy is likely to remain the key to the election’s outcome.”

This prediction has been substantiated by the events of the US financial markets this week.

I also asserted that although racism is at work in the election, it was difficult to see white Americans cutting off their noses to spoil their faces, to which an ardent American (well, he sounded American) responded:

Stay out of American politics Mr Cudjoe, unless you have something positive to contribute. If you want to see racism first hand look no further than your backyard in T&T where over 90 per cent of government employees are Afro-Trinidadians, where Cepep and URP are basically a blacks-only club. I won’t go into further details of the negative and illicit (?) contributions made by Afro-Trinidadians in the destruction of Trinidad.

One can forego the observations about Afro-Trinidadians and their illicit contributions although it is difficult to see how illicit contributions lead to the destruction of an island. Yet, no sensible person can be unaware of the role ingrained racism has played (and is playing) in the American political system.

Prior to the American Civil War (1861-1865), the three-fifths clause of the American constitution in which every African American was counted as three-fifths of a person for purposes of the appointments of member to the House of Representatives, resulted in most of the Presidents of the US being elected because of this racial manoeuvre.

Race has never been a part of T&T’s constitution. It is not embedded in our constitution nor is it a more important factor than, say, religion in shaping our election outcomes. In the US, it took the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to eliminate the pernicious requirement that prevented citizens from voting because of their race and/or colour of their skins.

Another reader zeroed in on the case with acuity when he wrote:

Selwyn, I envy your optimism. I hope your prediction is correct. In Texas recently in conversation at a barbeque a white woman said to me, ‘Bob, Obama is smart but my ancestors will turn in their grave if I voted for a N—–.’ Even my white friends were astonished and embarrassed but I suspect this is a deeper revelation of a fundamental part of the American psyche.

This reader’s comments reveal a perplexing frame of mind, although evidence suggests that Americans under the age of 40 are shedding this fundamental racist outlook and trust more to their humanitarian instincts. Herein lays the hope for an Obama victory.

But Republican hypocrisy only perpetuates this cynicism and continues to manipulate the racial categories as well. I must confess that I thought little about Governor Palin’s pregnant daughter until a cousin brought the contradiction to my attention. The next day, Franck Rich of the New York Times was on the case. Quoting Byron York of the National Review, he acknowledged the Republican double standard:

If the Obamas had a 17-year-old daughter who was unmarried and pregnant by a tough-talking black kid, my guess is if they all appeared on stage at a Democratic convention and the delegates were cheering wildly, a number of conservatives might be discussing the issue of dysfunctional black families.

It does not take much for any serious student of American politics to locate the double standards—and yes, racism—in such a blatant about-face in the politics of the Republican Party. In 1992, the “family values” theme was central to the Republican Convention. Dan Quayle, the Republican vice president, inveighed against the loss of such values when he castigated Murphy Brown, the TV character, for having a baby without the benefit of marriage. He even condemned the distribution of condoms to those who are “squandering the gift of youthful innocence in premarital sex.”

But the Republicans believe in little save getting elected. Values can be scarified on the altar of expediency. There is an election to be won and nothing should prevent a favourable outcome, even if they have to remake themselves; even if they have to deny eight years of deregulations; even if John McCain has to prevent the public from believing that he voted with President Bush 90 per cent of the time.

Over the last two days, the Dow industrials have fallen by close to 1,000 points and fears of the 1929 depression are beginning to resonate as we talk about today’s financial market.

A recent New York Times/CBS poll reports that the “Palin effect” was merely “a limited burst of interest” although her presence on the ticket consolidated the Republican base. The same poll reports that 60 per cent of Americans as opposed to 53 per cent believe that Obama is better prepared to get them out of this economic crisis than McCain.

It is a message that Obama must bore home with all his oratorical skills over the next 46 days before the election. His window of opportunity is now.

18 Responses to “The Economy, Stupid”


  • “Race has never been a part of T&T’s constitution. It is not embedded in our constitution nor is it a more important factor than, say, religion in shaping our election outcomes,” lies Selwyn Cudjoe. (Lies combined with truth are still lies!!!)

    OF COURSE race shapes the election outcomes in Trinidad!!! Electoral boundaries are gerrymandered in Trinidad such that wherever there is a large concentration of Afro-Trinidadians (‘Africans,’) there are many electoral seats available, whereas there are (comparatively) fewer seats available wherever there are similar concentrations of Indo-Trinidadians (‘Indians’).
    In this way, the PROBABILITY of the overwhelmingly-‘African’-supported PNM winning elections via race is always in their favour. The PNM has used this gerrymandering to win elections all the time (except in 1986 when the gerrymandering failed -when both racial poles ‘disappeared’- because most of the electorate overwhelmingly voted 33-3 for the NAR).
    [You the perceptive ones, go and superimpose a map of Trinidad showing electoral boundaries over a distribution-of-population-by-race one and see for yourselves. Make SURE that the maps are current for whatever T&T electoral periods you (choose to) observe.]

    Race has never been influential in shaping T&T’s election outcomes??? As far back as 1956, when PNM campaigned for that year’s elections, in meetings where ‘Indian’ speakers on PNM platforms addressed ‘African’ crowds, those crowds used to listen to them but make no verbal comments. AFTER the ‘Indian’ speakers left the platforms (for the day/evening/night) -to go and speak at another venue that same day, a norm during campaigning- ONLY THEN would the ‘African’ supporters query the PNM meetings’ adjudicators with, “What will be the position of (the) ‘Indians’ in the PNM (government)”-type questions!

    Race, combined with the racial gerrymandering of the Trinidad electoral boundaries (as said above), HAS been the linchpin strategy used to enable PNM to have a greater probability, an unfair advantage, in winning elections all the time, “…in shaping our electoral outcomes.”

    NOT what lying Cudjoe would have you (ignorant others) believe otherwise!!!

    Bacon172000.

  • The problem here is the need to rid our selves of the a system and it’s Parties that do not have the nations interest at heart. Both PNM and the opposition Parties continue to use the British established model of exploitative, “divide and rule” politics. Which has created the climate of hate and ethnic division we see represented by the comment below:

    THE EXCESSES of western and ghetto culture have been mainly responsible for young people getting involved in drugs and prostitution as well as crimes and violence in Trinidad and Tobago.

    Quote : Mickela Panday

    Are we to assume that the term “ghetto culture” implies the influence of USA’s Hip Hop culture?

    Are we to assume that the term “ghetto culture” implies the influence of Jamaican culture?

    Are we to assume that “ghettos” only exist on the hills of laventille and not on the plains on Caroni?

    Or is she refering to the “Jews” of poland who created the term “ghetto” to describe their slums?

    what is being said here?

    Are we to assume that history is wrong when it shows us that Casinos are the beginning of institutionalized prostitution and crime.

    I challenge anyone to follow the pattern of both in T&T and you will see the direct correlation!

    Was it not the UNC that ushered in both to the levels we see today by introducing the immoral Casinos, thus negating the moral argument against the expansion of prostitution rings and gun/drug smuggling? Thus the hypocrisy.
    And is it not the present PNM that continues this program?

    Any “leader” who claims to represent the people and at the same time show total disrespect for the poor, who comprise the “ghettos” through out the world, by labeling them with such derogatory terms like “ghetto culture” is not be taken seriously, and should be viewed as very “dangerous”. They will ensure that those very “poor” and their “culture” are neglected.

    This is rhetoric of the UNC, spoken at a Hindi religious organization when there was no Africans present. So you see, things are said behind the back by “BOTH” corrupt, politically bankrupted party’s. Therefore it becomes necessary to expose the one sided politics in todays T&T for what it really is. And not just to make one sided accusations. “BOTH SIDES” are divisive.

    Mud will go back and forth on the faces of all involved. But they do not care because they have already sold out the nations resources and are simply fighting over who will govern the left over spoils. While we fight over things that will get us nowhere and as a result, will leave us in a much worst condition than we already are in T&T.

  • Let me see if I can understand what this Bacan 172000 character is attempting to imply. All the political successes of the PNM that took place since 1956 to present time were due to racially skewed geographical manipulations, and other possible electoral fraudulent behaviors. In essence, Afro /Indo Trinidadians, and other ethnicities that supported this PNM party and not the ULF/UNC/COP DIHOCTAMY are a bunch of idiots and sheep like followers except for the two occasions 1986, and 1995.
    Could you believe that a few of us were of the view that the failure of the Indian party to attain political victory was simply because its leaders could not accept the fact that it was no longer a Trade Union / Sugar worker / pressure group, and that it should attempt to develop broad based policies geared to attracting a wider cross section of the population.
    Here it is that I thought that many from the party were too stupid to realize that the country was divided racially with a growing mixed population and victory for one group depended on support from the other and that saying and developing a mindset that “this is our time,” when victory was attained in 95, as well as raiding the treasury, or mismanaging our resources via greedy and corrupt practices will guarantee that they remain in the Opposition until Mickela- Basdeo’s daughter is 95 years old.
    Can somebody tell this fool and his race mongering cohorts that the politics of hate and divisiveness has no place in our country? It might be acceptable in Calcutta, and appear attractive to their cousin Jagdeo in Bebice Guyana, but we the growing literate, globally exposed, and increasingly progressive, won’t tolerate it any more in our country- and that’s the real reason why they won’t ever be victorious at the polls even with all the help from mother Britinia.
    Tell this clown that his buddies in the UNC to stop flaunting their useless British aristocratic legal education, and begin to pull out the Political Science playbook, and learn how politics are conducted across the world in countries that possess similar racial and ethnical divisional challenges.
    Request that he observe how mixed societies operate in terms of real alliances, coalitions, and adoption of similar power sharing mechanisms. It is the borderline octogenarian Bas right to personally denounce Manning as an evil and unfit political leader as much as he wants. He is free to encourage his minions in the media, academia, and elite circles locally and globally to denounce black people only for all the ills that affected our country since 1962 – since we are a democracy. However when the political spoils of the Prime Minister Office don’t come the UNC Indo- T&T way, then please refrain from insulting our collective intelligence by claiming that its because of some phantom electoral corruption and such nonsense, as the majority of us with a brain won’t accept it.

  • Leaving all the rhetoric aside, it is a fact that the PNM has skillfully gerrymandered the electoral boundaries to ensure victory in elections, based on tribal voting patterns. This happens in most jurisdictions and parties in power use this trick to stay in power.This is nothing new.For example, without two seats in Tobago, the PNM would have to struggle for electoral success.If T&T were to institute representation by population, the PNM would have difficulty winning an election, assuming that the tribal voting patterns continue.The majority Indian population in T&T is under-represented. The question to ponder- Would the African population accept under-representation if they were the largest ethnic group in T&T?

  • The two occasions that the Indiuans got an opportunity to seize power what was done? You answer that one.If the indian leadership was passionate about Tobago , as they are about their narrow bases in Caroni, Couva, Chaguans , Carapichima and other parts of South and Central, then Tobago could be theirs as well, don’t you think? People will only follow the politicval party that they believe would look out for their narrow interest. UNC still remains buried in the mindset of a Sugar and Rice worker Trade Union organization. This is the 21st Century Tman, tell your political leadership , better yet look how cousin Obama is doing his thing and compare it with his predecessor Jesse Jackson & Al Sharpton.

  • The white americans must understand that slavery left an indelible effect on the black mind.Slavery created deep seated hate,bitterness
    and anger among the westernized africans.If Obama were to win, the
    whites would be brutalized,victimized and discriminated against,the
    remnants of slavery would be spewed onto them.The whites must remember that race is an important factor as they go to the polls on november 4th.Slavery’s effects are pervasive and inflexible as seen
    among western blacks.The white americns must look to Trinidad for advice as a black government continually discriminate and victimize
    east indians and promote an afrocentric policy.History cannot be changed but our future responses can,on november 4th the whites must
    consider the teachings of evolutionary psychology.

  • Paul you are making absolutely no sense whatsoever , and one can see that your only aim is to stire up some foolish debate in which no one is concerned with. If east indians are viictimized as they think they are – along with you,then they can do what they have always done across the globe since leaving the prestine shores of India decades ago. Pack their bags , sell their properties, and run to mother Canada, England ,and North Americe for refuge. Guess what , as they leave some one else is eager to come into our loving country and willingly take their place- rest assured of that.

  • Paul. This is the first time since i joined this blog that i don’t know what to write. This is just plain silly, you can’t really be serious?

  • If ‘Neal’ and his, ‘majority…with a brain won’t accept it,’ fine. So quick to squeal, “Ees ah eendian riting dat,” Eh, ‘Neal’?

    The following words in quotes below are NOT the words of Bacon172000, ‘Neal.’:

    “The Parliament library has a document detailing racism in employment at the Central Bank of T&T. Eric Williams appointed a Commission of Inquiry into racial and colour discrimination in the private sector and to study racism in employment. This document is available for all to study.

    Prof Lloyd Braithwaite was the chairman and fellow commissioners were Esmee Ottley, Boyd Reed, Dr. Martin Sampath and Aldwyn Poon Tip. The commissioners reported on October 5, 1970, that:

    “There was racial imbalance at the Central Bank. The commission in its investigation interpreted the phrase ‘private sector’ liberally as indicating all those institutions not directly controlled by the Government.

    “In the case of the Central Bank, although colour discrimination did not seem to exist, THERE APPEARED TO BE A CONSIDERABLE RACIAL IMBALANCE BETWEEN INDIANS AND NON-INDIANS, with the Indians considerably under-represented in comparison with their proportion in the general population.

    “We believe that the existence of this imbalance indicates that all the institutions such as we have described should come under the scrutiny of the Race Relations Board.”

    Those were all honourable men and women, not known to be partial to Hindus or Indians. More than 30 years later the situation remains the same.”

    ‘Neal,’ can you please research the above quoted -no matter by whom it was written- and confirm the TRUTH of it, please?

    Bacon172000.

  • So Bacan 17200 you prefer to hide behind the findings of a study and comments that came to being some 37 years ago to justify your argument that institutional and electorial racial discrimination exist today in our country correct? Instead of suggesting that novel broad based political mechanisms be put in place to justifiably remove the PNM ,you think the way forward is to run abroad ,cry opression , make phanthom genocide or terrorism accusations, and millions of unbelievable forms of Human rights abuse claims correct? Good for you and your cohorts.
    Don’t be surprise however when England ,Canada , USA and other desirous European states stop believing you as their citizens on vacation to our country attempts to purchase the lucious pieces of real estates that you are running away from ,while at the same time requiring that we suddenly jump through all sort of impossible immigration hurdles to go for a vacation to their country .Need I say Canada and England Visa requirement from 1986 and now 2008.Get with the program guys, you do not want to hear my PNM gripes on behalf of Africans in our beautiful country.
    It was the late great Mahatma Gandhi that stated the following: “If you want to change the world , you have tobe the change.”Start to flush away the poison of hate whereever it exist in our country , it is the first step forward.

  • During the 1960’s, Sir Hugh Wooding proposed having a voting system comprising the first-past-the-post (FPP) (the system used presently) AND proportional representation (PR). But Williams and the PNM and their conmen rejected it, because it would have been the death knell of the PNM as was (“Nah, boy, we ‘African’ go looze pawah, and dem ‘Eendian’ go benefit, an’ we cyah have dat!…”).

    That proposed mixed-voting system defeated the intent of racially-gerrymandered electoral boundaries in Trinidad implemented for PNM’s benefit.

    The FPP-PR system –properly instituted and not conman instituted, obviously- makes/made ALL parties contesting elections ‘equal,’ starting at the start line, rather than ahead of it as racial gerrymandering does/did for the PNM. It removed the unfairly-gerrymandered-derived power of the vote AWAY from the PNM voting mob, and distributed it evenly-equally to ALL T&T voting citizens.
    Knowing that they (PNM) maintained power via their ‘African’ bretheren, PNM’s power would have been diminished by the FPP-PR system of voting. It meant that they would have been forced to contest elections with their racial lynchpin hampered/diminished. In this way, therefore, PNM would have faced the electorate on an equal footing with the other parties contesting: the race factor would have been subsumed for ANY party or individual who wanted to use race to ‘get into power.’
    But Williams and his PNM conmen didn’t want that, did they??

    Even with the FPP-PR system of voting, it STILL wouldn’t have decreased the irreversible intent of the ‘African’ mob voting for PNM, ‘voting fo dey race,’ nor its equivalent other, the ‘Indian’ mob, voting for .
    (And you do know that Panday and the PNM conmen are allies who exploit this, and pretend they are adversaries, don’t you?)

    NOBODY, not even you or I, can stop anybody else ‘voting fo dey race’ if they wish, if their CULTURE exploded / amplified race as being important despite any arguments to the contrary (‘I ‘African’ therefore I superior to all other races??’). (What is more important or of no import? Culture or race?) What is PNM’s Nazi-brother-inherited, Idi-Amin-Bokassa, voting mob culture?? ‘F^($ dem Eendian?’, ‘ “We ‘Africans’ ha toe remain on top, an we ha toe stop dem ‘Eendian’ from progressing,” by using affirmative-action policies?’ ‘Dem Eendian teef??’
    And I’m SURE ‘Neal’ (a lover of equality??) would want to cite other examples of others defending their race…

    Sir Hugh Wooding, I’m of the opinion, understood and realized the non-importance and danger of race as a determining factor in elevating one or a party into political power, hence his FPP-PR system. In his own way, he tried to steer the PNM away from it (race), but he didn’t succeed; Eric and the PNM conmen and their conmen allies didn’t want it so.

    So here we are today in the worse off electoral condition.

    Bacon172000.

  • We are in 2008 Bacon172000, and here you are lamenting about trivialities of two old neo colonial elitist inconsequential has been Hugh Wodden , and Eric Williams. Leave these two characters where they belong my friend, in the pages of UWI final year students’ history text book. In case you just landed from Mars and recently began observing real T&T politics two weeks ago, you might then remember that two of the most devious and corrupt PNM MP’s in the history of our country were East Indian Kamaludin Mohammed and Errol Mahabir the Minister of Health/ Agriculture and Energy respectively ,as well as deputy PMs. If you and the political dunces that have hijacked the UNC want to believe that PNM victories was solely dependent on Afro- Trinidadian votes then that’s your prerogative. Should you erroneously believe that it was the usual drunken vitriolic charisma of Panday, Ramnath, and Sudama that ensured African support and thus victory for their party in 86 and 95 then feel free to do so.

    I would even attempt to respond to your foolish and pointless rum shop and roti rants about Nazi African, Idi Amin and Bokosa, as I know not where you are heading with that and could care less. All I could encourage you and others of your ilk to do is to keep up your African hate rhetorics, and while you are at it continue to attempt to infuse and inculcate your siblings with similar venomous diatribe. The policy worked in backward Guyana , and perhaps it might in our country as well, since according to many growing views across the globe we are fast becoming a nations of bumbling idiots, as was obviously reflected by you.

  • “All I, [‘Neal,’] could encourage you and others of your ilk to do is to keep up your African hate rhetorics, and while you are at it continue to attempt to infuse and inculcate your siblings with similar venomous diatribe.”

    Can someone please tell meus why he would want to do that?

    Bacon172000.

  • Prof. Cudjoe has never hid his affiliation where T&T politics is concerned. I therefore find it hard that he has a problem with the US!

    There may be nothing that legislates against a particular race in the US’s system, but it’s there, clear as day, in the psyche of white Americans. It’s exactly the same with Trinis and our elections! If white Americans were the underdog in the U.S., would Prof. Cudjoe be similarly concerned? Would he be asking the same questions?

    In Trinidad, it’s also the economy, stupid! Water provision, education, and equal opportunity also figure pretty highly. Why doesn’t he have issues with Trinidad elections too?

  • paul, I agree with you totally.

  • Anyone who would agree with Paul is at best misinformed. Nothing he has stated actually happened. There is no backlash. If anything, there is a subtle movement to actually live part of the dream stated by the late Martin Luther King which is to be judged on the content of ones character and not by the color of ones skin. If there is anyone who considers equality as the same as backlash, they need help for their skewed mind.

  • Richard Cummings

    Neal, Forbes Burnham in Guyana was racist and attempted ethnic cleansing. Now it is up to the East Indians to take the country up the road to betterment. He ran the economy to down to nothing and almost destroyed that country. That is the same thing that you and your PNM are trying to do to Trinidad and Tobago.

  • “The white americans must understand that slavery left an indelible effect on the black mind.Slavery created deep seated hate,bitterness and anger among the westernized africans.If Obama were to win, the whites would be brutalized,victimized and discriminated against,the remnants of slavery would be spewed onto them.The whites must remember that race is an important factor as they go to the polls on november 4th.Slavery’s effects are pervasive and inflexible as seen among western blacks.”-Paul

    None of that has happened Paul. President Obama doesn’t have a history of slavery in his family. If anything, he has done more for to try to help everyone more than any other President. I hope minds like yours aren’t apart of todays election. We all need a leader who respects us all not just some of us. If we don’t get it right this time, those of us who are around next time will.

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