A lot to learn from the US elections
I have been looking at the Republican and Democratic Conventions in the US and they were compelling in their stark contrast to ours. There were the same "party groups " as in T&T, but it was interesting to see black/white /Asians/Hispanics/other rooting for Obama on the basis of the issues like whether as Americans, they are better off now than four years ago, whether new jobs have been created and the economy is growing, whether health care has improved or whether America is safer inter alia.
How different from us who, for the most part, look at our candidates in terms of the tribe and the party which represents it with little attention to the issues! It was interesting, too, to see both parties focusing on the middle class as the engine of national development with this group aspiring to a mode of living involving getting a good job through a good education, with everyone having a fair shot in an even playing field.
Our politicians, unlike the Americans , see the middle class as inconsequential in terms of the vote which is their priority, and focus instead on the grassroots who are the perfect fodder for the politics of race in which there need not be any accountability for stewardship and you approval rating based simply on your affiliation with tribe and party. With all this, however, my object is not to deride, but to make manifest a dream for this country, that our politics, on the one hand, will cease to be as tribal as it is, and through some kind of constitutional change, follow the enlightened American model in which people of different races can look at a candidate for his character and the issues he stands for instead of the colour of his skin or the texture of his hair, and on the other, that it will enable the people of this country to feel that they are all part of an even playing field and that they all have an equal and fair opportunity to achieve, in true middle class style, according to their various capacities.
Dr Errol Benjamin