At the height of the Chaguanas West by-election last year, I wrote an article titled “Sinking in the mud” which highlighted the low level of campaigning and the depths to which some candidates sank in order to win votes. I wrote at the time “the rhetoric from the various campaigns seem to be getting more desperate and unfortunately more crude and offensive.”
Despite the bitterness and rancour of previous campaigns, much worse may be in store for a beleaguered electorate whenever elections are held. Instead of climbing out of the mud, we seem to be splashing around in the slime. Paid assassins are now roaming the streets, prompting the Express to lament in a recent editorial that “a disturbing new ugliness has emerged.”
The editorial also noted ominously that “entering an election year with such mischief afoot will only serve to unnerve the society and create fertile conditions for more mischief.”
English philosopher Thomas Hobbes coined the phrase “nasty, brutish and short” to describe the ‘natural condition of man.’ With due apologies to the 17th century sage, one can predict that the ‘natural condition’ of 2015 and the much-anticipated general election is likely to be ‘nasty, brutish and long.’
Rumours abound that millions have already been stashed away in various ‘war chests’ and money will flow like water once elections are called. Unfortunately much of it will be spent, not on political education or edification, but on cheap inducements and expensive advertising campaigns. Media houses and ad agencies are already salivating over the massive windfall that the advertising dollars will bring.
A brief insight into the emerging cesspool was displayed recently when racist flyers were surreptitiously placed on vehicles parked at MovieTowne. It is the second such incident for the year and similar placards were displayed at a protest march in May. Despite the many CCTV cameras around the city the culprits remain undetected.
These distasteful events did not happen by guess but are the work of malevolent minds that are determined to exploit tribal tensions for political gain. My own view is that some sinister group is merely ‘testing the waters’ and the full brunt of the racist agenda will be seen once the election bell is rung.
Only the tip of the iceberg may have been revealed so far and in the words of the famous pop song, “you ain’t seen nothing yet.”
Fortunately, a significant percentage of the electorate is getting increasingly fed-up with the nepotism and corruption of the old-school, tribal politics. That sentiment may account in part, for the constant changes in government over the past 25 years.
The public has been looking for something fresh and they are getting tired of the same old faces doing and saying the same old things. They are tired of dead bodies turning up here, there and everywhere with no-one being held accountable. They keep hearing about “capturing the big fish” but they know it is just empty rhetoric.
They are annoyed by the non-stop Public Relations gimmickry and the crass attempts to buy votes. They are desperate for straight answers and honest dialogue and they are distressed by the lack of integrity and ethical conduct at the highest levels.
Many within this percentage belong to that expanding group of so-called floating voters who increasingly determine the eventual winners and losers. So while cell phones, jerseys, food cards and ‘bluenotes’ will be used to woo voters in 2015, candidates with clean hands and new ideas may also find fertile soil.
Hopefully they will receive the type of mandate that will allow them to make a meaningful contribution. In the short term however things are likely to get worse before they get better, more so when the ‘Battle for the Treasury’ begins in earnest.
Despite a miniscule economic growth rate of 0.5% and a continuing fall in the price of oil, the plundering of the public purse is likely to continue. As a result, the new year will also see more scandals and revelations as the feeding frenzy intensifies and efforts to distract or cover-up collapse in the face of an uncompromising social media.
Already there are storm clouds on the horizon including the recent arrest in Brazil of senior officials of OAS, the company that is constructing the $7 billion highway to Point Fortin. The top executives were charged with ‘making bribe payments to politicians’ in various Latin American countries.
While there have been no allegations against anyone involved in the T&T project, there’s an old saying, “where there’s smoke…”
So buckle your seat belts and hold on tight, it’s going to be a bumpy ride in 2015.