A Party For And Of The People

By Michael De Gale

Congress Of the People's Rally in picturesWhether we choose to acknowledge it or not, we live in a society where race, unfortunately, is an increasingly divisive issue. Whether we inherited this from our colonial past or we are just too damn stupid to appreciate its negative impact on the society as a whole, the fact remains that race is a cause for much concern in T&T. It is because of this that the recently created Congress of the People must do everything in its power not to be perceived as an “Indian Party” if it hopes to wrestles the reigns of power from the current administration.

Like most Trinbagonians, I too am concerned about the mismanagement of our oil rich economy, intellectual bankruptcy, incompetence, the disconnect between the political elite and the people, and the unnecessary suffering inflicted upon the citizenry. These and a long list of other social, economic and political problems which are strangling the society, are issues that must be addressed with a great deal of urgency. It is said that, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Without a doubt, after more than 30 years in power, the PNM administration has given credence to this adage. The time has come to bid them adieu before they run the country into the ground by squandering our resources and throwing away our chance for genuine national development.

Although the need for political change is unquestionable, we must also zealously guard against the risk of jumping from the frying pan to the fire. From all appearances, the Congress of the People could pose a formidable threat to the present administration. However, I am deeply concerned about the racial composition of this party, which to my mind is not sufficiently representative of the diversity of the population.

It is not my intention to question Mr. Dookeran’s genuine desire to rule in the national interest. As a man perceived to be imbued with integrity and high moral principles, I expect nothing less. However, in its current manifestation, it is difficult not to view this party as primarily an “Indian Party” when the executives, for the most part, appear to be dominated by one ethnic group. Added to that, most of its executives were previously affiliated with the UNC. This alone is cause for concern. To increase his creditability as a potential national leader, Dooks will be well advised to “mix it up”.

Mr. Dookeran is presented with a unique opportunity to elevate the political discourse in the country by moving away from race and focusing on issue based politics. This is his opportunity to display political maturity and to demonstrate true statesmanship. He must forcefully resist the temptation both inside and outside the party to play the race card. For this, history will remember him kindly. Failure to take this initiative however will diminish him in the eyes of the electorate and keep the nation in a third world holding pattern, where strong men and dictators rule the roost by encouraging division much to the detriment of the nation.

Given the discontent that is prevalent throughout the society, I am certain that if Mr. Dookeran’s party should reflect the nation’s diversity and he surrounds himself with men and women of intelligence, vision and nationalistic pride, he will have no problem winning the upcoming election by a landslide victory. If on the other hand, he fails to grasp the opportunity to set an agenda that is inclusive and beneficial to the nation as a whole, his party will crash and burn before it ever sees the corridors of power, taking with it the aspirations of a nation.

Unfortunately, in its present form, the Congress of the People will not get my vote. However, I will be more inclined to lend my support if its executives reflect the richness of T&T in all its diversity as it encompasses the hopes and dreams of the nation. In essence, Mr. Dookeran must create a party of the people and for the people if he wants to increase his political currency.

4 Responses to “A Party For And Of The People”


  • If the predominant social culture of any human nesting is founded on, or adheres to, beliefs that people are naturally superior or inferior based on their membership in a specific group, racism will continue to be the order of the day. Racial prejudice have inherently been premised on the superior/inferior argument. The belief system can never be addressed and cast into the dump heap where it belongs, until the courage is summoned up to tackle the sickness at the source of its contamination.

    There is racism in this world, and there is reaction to racism. The obsession to link the two as a balanced equation,rather than the reality of institutionalized hate producing a negative reaction of hate, stifles or prohibits deep examination of racial interacion between groups. The strategy in place is to create an illusion of comraderie, while leaving in place ego fulfilling inverse proportional sacred cows.

  • I made that observation about COP a year ago in this very forum, and was criticized for it. There are sacred cows in the discourse of the politics of T&T and Guyana, and there is always visceral reaction to realities that would be as viscerally objected to if the actors or players were in reverse roles.

    The message from an apparent homogeneous political organization urging voters to choose it over the PNM and UNC creates a great deal of cognitive dissonance among some of us. And many of those who have no problem with this, are the same people who are ranting and raving that the PNM is homogeneous and not representative of the mosaic of T&T. Like it has always been traditionally, some people really do not see black people, so their absence in scenarios like these is considered by them to be quite normal.

  • Since the formation of the COP the political dynamic of Trinidad and Tobago has changed. Indisputably, the COP has added value to the political culture, and discussion of T&T. What is necessary, and what must always be on the forefront of the leadership of the COP is the need to embrace all the people. This means in large measure that the Congress of the People must not be perceived to be a political movement that is interested in the rich and powerful, or simply put the elite members of our society. At the end of the day the masses always make the difference in any election and they must never be taken for granted. We must reach out to the grass-roots at every turn and must etch our image as a party of hope deep in their psyche.

  • Kennedy Sooklal wondered why no one was persecuted including Manning when Cartey claimed that “all ah we thief.”
    I hope the irony did not escape him that both PNM Deputies Kamal our one time Health and Agricultural minister /ADB loans top guru, and Energy minister Errol Mahabir of Japanese Garden fame ,would now be probably finishing their respective prison sentences ,if the world was indeed a fair one when it comes to justice.
    Perhaps someone might want to explain to me how a country could be divided almost equally racially , yet one party in the PNM could successfully dominate the political landscape for so long.Where the Indo / Pro PNM supporters , and the Afro /PRO /ULF UNC forced into voting when they did to ensure victories at the polls on the occasions they did?
    It is amazing how often the seemingly intelligent amongst us can misread the tea leaves , or rather misinterpret the prevailing realities , and or underestimate the real potential of our people to collectively make prudent political decisions that serves their own interest.
    Long live the PNM , the UNC and the dozens of fragile ,emerging, contending parties , that have tried to rule the roost ever since August 31st 1962.
    Race is a convenient boogyman that is often conveniently trotted out sometimes by the interllectually lazy, as they try to decipher the convoluted showpiece we still refer to as national politics in Trinidad and Tobago.
    Just think of the possibilities for social ,and economic accomplishments ,if we could only tweak our way of thinking, and enlighten the confused masses as to what really makes them underachievers when compared with others with none of our vast natural and human resources.

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