Lessons from Tobago
Well, it is over or really, is it over? Monday, January 21 has emerged as yet another historic milestone in the political life of Trinidad and Tobago in general and Tobago in particular. Who would have believed that the People's Partnership with all its resources and political acumen would have been so thoroughly thrashed by the PNM? Yes! While one poll predicted an 11-one victory for PNM, most of us remained sceptical and somewhat afraid for the PNM.
The focus now should be on what to do with the political monopoly that now prevails in the THA. Experience has shown that nothing can be more intoxicating than unexpected victory and power. History has revealed that over-confidence and power can easily lead leaders and their respective states to destruction. Let us hope that this does not turn out to be the case in Tobago.
Political scientists throughout history and worldwide tell us that for democracy to thrive, one-party states or assemblies must be avoided; that some force must exist to contain leaders driven by their passion and irrepressible convictions.
As I see it, both Dr Keith Rowley and Orville London will now have to decide how they will meet the needs, morale and imagination of Tobago residents. Indeed, the strategic political apex in Tobago has to embark on the following:
1. Find and implement structures that will help promote and maintain democracy, fair-play, equal opportunity, and justice in Tobago.
2. Develop, promote, and implant in the consciousness of all living in Tobago that we now live in a world that can survive only on a platform of consensus. For those who doubt this take a look at Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and most of Africa.
3. Convince Tobagonians that the world is confronted by the imperative of austerity. We cannot continue to live by "vaps'' and dependency on the state to continuously bail us out.
4. Restrain any propensity for political victimisation and patronage. If Tobago is to move forward, its leaders will have to ensure that a meritocracy blossoms in the island, giving all those who are competent, committed and progressive a chance to contribute to island-building.
5. Assemble a think-tank to explore and implement strategies for surviving and excelling in the new civilisation that is unfolding. There is absolutely no doubt that Tobagonians cannot continue in the long run as they have been going. They have to go back to the drawing board.
Finally, we must not forget that a chain is as strong as its weakest link and by extension, if Tobago becomes weak or dysfunctional, Trinidad also will be weakened. We have to adopt the philosophy that together we stand, together we fall. See how France and Germany are fighting to preserve the eurozone.
Raymond S Hackett