I am writing you for two main reasons: I am hoping that you can help me resolve a small problem and I want to share a discovery with you that maybe you could pass on.
First my small problem; I am not a politician (this is not the problem) and I have come over the years to accept and be quite comfortable with the fact that I don’t understand politics, at all (that is not really the problem either). My already limited understanding of politics is further restricted by the fact that from my position (that would be underfoot) all politicians look like heels, and when they speak in their hyperbolic, oft times disingenuous, political jargonese about “failed policies” and “fiscal measures/deficits” and “no, we will not, not even as a symbolic gesture of solidarity cut our salaries”*, they all sound exactly the same to me. From where I stand it appears that Barbados has only one political party, possibly with two chapters (but I’m not even really convinced about that). Can you imagine the abject confusion I experience, particularly these days, when listening to the “everything is the other party’s fault!” political speeches that are so popular now? I never know who is talking about whom. The only clear message that I come away with is that EVERYBODY is to blame.
Up till now, I had never considered this lack of mine to be a shortcoming, I am after all a mere civilian and apparently my responsibility (according to at least one politician I can think of) is to be civil or get my head cracked. That aside, I have never, again up till now, felt that I needed a particularly deep understanding of how politics and government really work to participate in the political process, after all how many microwave users truly understand how a microwave really works?
I realise now that this is analogy falls apart when you consider that most microwave users at least understand what a microwave is supposed to do. I suspect that if we really knew what government was supposed to do we would have realised a long time ago (more than ten years) that artificially creating jobs for yard-fowls (among other things) is a sign that government is malfunctioning…though by the same token we should have realised that expecting and/or accepting such jobs is indicative of a malfunctioning electorate.
But I digress, my problem, Mr Wickham is that I know something is wrong (with the economy…perhaps?) I know something is wrong because our politicians are behaving like the unlikely offspring of skittish horses and headless chickens (headless horsckens?). I know something is wrong and I want to be proactive but I have absolutely no idea how to proceed!
If I didn’t know better (which I barely do), when I listen to one side of DBLP I would be convinced that they were blameless and that our dilemma is indeed vaguely connected to some global crisis or other but exists primarily as a result of the B side of the party squandering times of plenty, failing to plan, mislaying resources and leaving the D side to inherit an unprepared mess while they (the B side) systematically hinder or directly block moves to recovery. However when I listen to the B side I would (again if I didn’t know better) come away with the belief that they are blameless and that our problems stem from the fact that the D side has fallen asleep at the wheel, and run out of ideas and that they have, in essence, betrayed the trust of an entire nation. More recently I get the impression listening to Minister Mottley that everything, including the recent heavy rains, is Chris Sinckler’s fault. I’m sure all of this talk has provided a rich substrate for plant growth but it leaves me not knowing who to (dis)believe.
Clearly it is time to figure out what the fuck a microwave is supposed to do! This is, in my opinion, where you come in Mr Wickham, you are after all, a political analyst, and as such I want to ask your assistance in making sense of this interminable mess.
Before I ask for your help, however, I think I should explain that I don’t really understand what a political analyst does. I know some smarty pants is probably laughing at me now and saying “a political analyst analyses politics moron!” But it stands to reason that if I don’t understand politics I may also not understand political analysis.
I raise the issue of my lack of understanding because it is entirely possible that what I am about to ask of you falls outside the duties of a political analyst and if so I beg your forgiveness in advance. I also mention my lack of understanding because the first thing I am going to do is complain (I do it so well!).
The complaint: I have noticed that you and other political analysts have been writing political commentaries that seem to focus on internal power struggles and how the two chapters of DBLP are positioning (or failing to position) themselves to handle the next election. The problem with this is… how can I put this delicately? NOBODY GIVES A FUCK!!
Let me explain. A week or two ago by now, I saw an article in the Nation Newspaper captioned “Wickham raps PM’s Absence”. I started reading, but was unable to finish, distracted by what seemed to me at the time (and now) the far more important task of assiduously picking my nose. I was able to discern that you had expressed concern as to what message the Prime Minister was sending by failing to attend MP Estwick’s meeting, but I didn’t care. I didn’t care then and I don’t care now whether or not MP David Estwick is staying with the party or crossing the floor, or starting his own party, or retiring from politics or going to mars on an extended vacation.
Similarly regarding the “misunderstanding” between leader of the opposition Mia Mottley and former PM Owen Arthur, I don’t care! I don’t care if Mr Arthur regains leadership of the party or if Ms Mottley retains it or if they get married pack the unbreakables and join MP Estwick on the red planet resort. I simply don’t give a fuck!
It’s not that I don’t understand how these internal power struggles compromise a country’s stability, I do. Those of us on the ground (as opposed to in the air?) live daily with the dearth of practical ideas that are a consequence of this bickering we don’t need anyone to expound on the message being sent because we got the message loud and clear a long time ago. We (well I) don’t care how well or badly positioned they are for the next election because there is life between elections and it is we who have to survive it.
I would be much more interested in getting some insight as to whether Mr Estwick’s idea regarding the United Arab Emirates is a feasible one, or if Mr Arthur's suggestion that the private sector needs to pick up the slack from the public sector has merit or if Ms Mottley’s eminent persons group could really help to get us out of this mess. It doesn’t make sense to rely on our politicians for clarity on this as it seems they can only speak opositionally i.e. if A suggests it, B says it is bullshit or vice versa (that should have read “if D suggests it, B says it is bullshit”)
One more thing before I solicit your help. A confession; I acknowledge (without absolving our politicians) that we the public are not blameless, we have participated greatly in the creation of an inefficient, ineffectual, monolith called the public sector, we have done so through a disgraceful work ethic (the visible minority) and our consensual silence about it (the silent majority). It is we who trained our politicians into believing (or at the very least reinforced the belief) that pandering to our basest, short term, short sighted needs was a sustainable political strategy. Consider shenanigans like the free money that appears in peoples’ hands around election time*2 or the people who have jobs that they are barely qualified to do but (until recently) have no reason to fear being fired as X person of power had put them there.
Mr Wickham I would love to hear from a political analyst how we go about redressing that. I would love to see a discourse on how the public can show political maturity and recognise that going to the polls is not the only time that we have an influencing voice. I want an exploration as to why administration after administration in this country has suffered from ID (Implementation Dysfunction) and how we can inject some political Viagra into the bloodstream. I want someone to explain to me why it is that every time someone (like myself) who clearly doesn't understand politics suggests that this calls for a bipartisan approach they are told that the way it works is that the opposition opposes as if we are automatons and therefore cannot adjust.
Another quick confession before I get to my discovery: It is very easy to talk about the stupidity and corruption of our politicians, it’s easy, it’s fun and, in my case, it helps me professionally, but it is, for the most part fallacious. With one or two notable exceptions our politicians are highly intelligent and accomplished people who, I believe are fully aware (I venture more so than we) of the dangers we currently face, I fear that part of the problem is that we are all trapped in a paradigm. But we are not automatons so that is no excuse.
Which leads me to my discovery; I was walking along a paved road, I’m genuinely not sure if it was paved with good intentions or with empty promises that looked like good intentions but I am certain it was the road to hell, anyhow as I walked I came upon a paradigm in which oppositions opposed governments indiscriminately and the political elite were not truly held accountable for their actions/inactions. Mr Wickham the paradigm was broken; maybe you should let someone know!
Nala (The $2 Philosopher)
* I am fully aware of the 10% cut to be taken at some yet to be determined time.
*2 I know that depending on who you ask these things "never" happen.