The Congress of the People (COP) continues to be a disastrous disappointment. A few weeks ago, I opined of their parliamentary arm: "They pretended to bring 'new politics', but turned out to be mere hitch-hikers to power; concerned only with cabinet positions whilst poor governance threatens the foundation and fabric of the society. It is a most insidious corruption to pretend to be lions, whilst knowing the gutlessness at your core."
Today the vast majority of the Executive and National Council also stand revealed and shamed. They rejected a motion which, at its heart, calls for the party to adhere to its founding principles. The essence of their position is: "something is very rotten in the government. But we don't mind the stench. We will be part of it." And the leader, with usual hollow self- righteousness, in a pathetic attempt to deodorise the decision, produced another example of his special logic, talking of a 'duty' to remain in government, even though on this major matter, 'the moral strength of the argument is strong'. So 'new politics' now means an obligation to be corrupt; a duty to let the rot continue. What depth of putrefaction!
And it is not as though the government is new and with its first error. Most agree the Partnership is infested, the worst of many bad administrations, taking us to the brink of social eruption. But as soon as the motion came to light, before you could say Jack Warner, COP's lily-livered leader declared the party was not leaving the government. And like sheep, the majority bleated on Sunday, with a namby-pamby amendment: "we call upon the Prime Minister to act, but we will stay in the partnership if she does nothing." Plenty fluff. No fight.
Before Sunday, the only way for the COP to recover its 'purity' was to stand irrevocably on principle and to leave the government if the situation became ethically untenable. But after this capitulation, they are a sorry sight. They should now keep their drooping little tails between their sorry legs, and not utter another word in public. In any case, this decision could very well be the last mound of dirt on their coffin, before they are entombed by time and become a mere footnote in the nation's history.
It would have been such an important development, had they shown quality. The country needs it. A nothingness now pervades the politics. The COP could have engendered hope by providing some light in our ever-darkening national night.
The COP was supposed to be part of a new order. That has been its raison d'etre since it first incarnated in 1981 as the Organisation for National Reconstruction. And the time had never been more propitious than now. A new era is arriving fast in Trinidad and Tobago. The old structures have virtually crumbled. After fifty years, the people are ready for a new chapter.
The COP could have been an important part of the future. Had they taken the decision to leave the government the party's stature would have grown phenomenally. The population would have turned almost completely towards them. Other parties would have come courting, instead of the other way around. They would be fresh, clean and full of possibility. But they didn't see their destiny. Nothing more tragic. According to the Bard, there is a time and tide, which if missed, you never recover.
The failure of COP's leaders to recognise their moment confirms some truth in the adage about the inescapable influence of one's origin. These people simply have no appreciation of the political space they now inhabit. Some even think they created it. But it is a clearing painstakingly started by independent minds even before nationhood; which became visible in the 1980s when, from that new political acre, the people called forth the ONR and then the NAR, and later the COP and the People's Partnership to bring a kingdom not yet come. This space is therefore hallowed ground. But the leadership of the COP has turned it into a political pig sty. It is therefore best for this party to disappear into the UNC or wherever and leave the space clear and cleansed for the people to call forth yet another formula for their deliverance. Let the COP now go the way of all flesh.
Because in this political middle, you must measure up. There is no tribe here in whose bosom to hide. There is no automatic support for every decision you take. Here texture of hair will not suffice, but ideas, vision, and inspiration. The people here want civilisation, nothing less.
They want a community of shared values and standards; people comfortable in the knowledge of one another; irrevocable commitment to equality of opportunity and eradication of poverty; empowerment of the vulnerable rather than generation of dependency; security in the incorruptibility of the law and our institutions; individual talent flourishing; attainment of excellence and not celebration of mediocrity; a classical era in our arts and not mere entertainment; culture characterised by the spirituality of poetry and philosophy and not just noise and garishness; people musing and reflecting and not just chattering and jabbering; diversity celebrated and fundamentalism rejected; love of people and animals and preservation of nature; and above all, integrity, justice, transparency and accountability; in short, our heaven in our country, our Trinidad and Tobago.
Isn't this worth fighting for? Can this government led by Kamla and Jack deliver such a society? Have they any idea of it? Instead, are we not now seeing the complete collapse of ethical standards and 'a spreading social swampland'? How then can the COP claim 'duty to the people' when failing to act? What a malodorous decision. Complete cop out!
• Ralph Maraj, former