Monday, February 19, 2018

A choice between two leaders

The 2015 general election provides voters with a clear choice between two leaders, two contrasting styles of governance, two visions of what our country should look like in the 21st century, two opposing plans and policies for taking our country forward, and two management styles generally reflective of their different genders.

The female gender style of management, we are told, is more participatory, inclusive, and consensual, characterised by more listening and less talking and necessarily includes a broader range of perspectives.

The other is not.

This choice between two contenders means that we are on the threshold of US-style presidential elections.

We always were.

“Dr” Rudranath Capildeo was recruited from London to fight “Dr” Eric Williams. If Williams was said to be “the third brightest” man in the world, the other party had to have as leader a world renowned and highly regarded mathematician.

In presidential elections leaders matter most. The supporting cast is almost irrelevant.

In the last US elections it was entirely about Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Prior to that it was Obama and John Mc Cain. Their vice presidential candidates are hardly mentioned.

Today in the US everything is about Obama. Has anyone heard about Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew? Or Secretary Sally Jewel, who heads the Department of the Interior? Or Secretary Jeh Johnson of the most important Department of Homeland Security? They are merely the supporting cast.

The UNC is very fortunate to have as its leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar. According to the polls and abundant anecdotal evidence on the streets, she is much more popular and much more liked by voters compared to other politicians both in and out of the party.

Let us face it, Kamla brings a refreshing perspective to our politics. It took a while for us to become accustomed to her style but gradually it is taking hold and we are beginning to understand and like it. The “in your face”, macho, very hierarchical, tough, bossman, bad-john, old-time prime ministerial leadership style to which we had grown accustomed in the past is gradually becoming irrelevant to a brighter and more educated population.

Eric Williams will not be tolerated today if he were to utter words like “who doh like it get to hell outta here”. Neither would another PNM leader who said: “I address you tonight as father of the nation”.

The male-dominated, largely PNM, management style has not served us well. Issues like child abuse and incest were routinely swept under the carpet and virtually ignored. It is only under Kamla’s leadership that abused children are receiving focused attention even as we mourn the treatment to which our most vulnerable have been exposed while we looked the other way.

Initiatives like the Children Life Fund to help the sick were seen as soft, unimportant and unnecessary in our macho, PNM, male-dominated world.

It was not by accident that male leaders failed to understand the irreparable damage done to our social fabric by the junior secondary shift system which left our children unsupervised for hours daily, together with the barrel children phenomenon where mothers left for greener pastures in the US, leaving their children in the hands of unprepared grandparents and sometimes uncaring family members.

These unfortunate children of the ’60s and ’70s are now in large measure today’s US deportees or are mis-parenting our inner city gang members.

That is why my choice for 2015 is Kamla Persad-Bissessar. I strongly believe that she needs two terms to undo the nonsense masquerading as PNM governance.

Let me make it abundantly clear. I am not voting for any supporting cast. Yes, they have a role and their performances are taken into account; but primarily I will be voting on the basis of a choice between two leaders, their policies and their visions.

I believe our PM will lead us to victory and more so if her supporting cast understands its role in a presidential election.

The PM was correct to put Ministers Gary Griffith and Anil Roberts in their places. By stealing the show, projecting themselves, continually hogging the limelight and essentially going off message they are presenting the worst elements of old style macho politics of the dinasauric PNM era from which we are moving away.

Nobody (at least nobody I know) will in 2015 cast their vote for any of the supporting cast on both sides of the divide.

It is clearly a choice between two leaders.