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A Party For And Of The People
Posted: Friday, September 15, 2006

By Michael De Gale

Whether 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.

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