Monday, January 22, 2018

Country before self for the good of T&T

 One of the world’s greatest icons, born and bred on local soil who performed in the political amphitheatre for decades stated once that our country needs men and women who could put “country before self” but instead we have put partisan interests way above good of country. 

One of the greatest democracies that have tried to foster and execute the philosophy of putting the best interest of the country above self-interest and building political stock is the United States.

There are several examples to show how the United States of America has lead the paradigm of putting country before self. For starters, who could forget the bruising campaign in the Democratic camp between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in 2008 for the presidential nomination—fiery and intense. 

However, once deemed an underdog to Obama, she eventually accepted the offer to be secretary of state in his cabinet with the unfettered position that it was critical for the two rivals to unite for the good of America and so disposed of self-serving interests. 

Hillary Clinton continued to emphasise that in her capacity as secretary of state it was critical for budding, struggling, aspiring and democratically celibate Asian parliamentary systems of government  to see the importance of rivals in well-defined democracies uniting for a greater good and it was possible as evidenced by the example set by her and Barack Obama.

This would take her and the US soaring high in their interactions with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation Organisation. This to date is still the trailblazer!

In February 2009 President Obama, determined to save the US that was on an economic and global precipice, things grim on the international front, decided to look beyond the confines of his party for the best people possible and took the unprecedented move by nominating three Republicans for his cabinet—Ray La Hood, a former Republican congressman from Illinois as secretary of transportation; Sen Judd Gregg of New Hampshire as commerce secretary and Roberts Gates.

Though unprecedented, it has not been in isolation as several preceding presidents have walked that path, namely, John F Kennedy had Republicans Douglas Dillon and Robert McNamara in his cabinet; George W Bush had Democrat Norman Mineta as transportation secretary. Even as far back as President Franklin D Roosevelt who had Republicans Frank Knox and Henry Stimson in his cabinet as secretaries of the Navy and of War respectively. There have also been several Republicans who have served as defense secretary (Cabinet position) under Democratic presidents including incumbent Chuck Hagel.

When will we follow suit and cross party lines and allow political party acrobats to have the finest and best minds pooled together in central government to do the job? When would I be able to sit in the audience and see a bright man like Colm Imbert or Faris Al-Rawi in a UNC Cabinet? When will see articulate and brilliant people like Vasant Bharath or Prakash Ramadhar or even a statesman like Winston Dookeran in a PNM Cabinet? Let us do the right thing because it is the right thing to do.

Cloud with the silver lining, are you on the horizons for sweet Trinidad and Tobago’s political landscape?

Deonarine Bridgemohan

San Fernando