The 2020 election campaigns have presented a kind of sameness or familiarity which is uninspiring. I get that their main objective is to energise their respective bases, but as comedian Sprangalang would say ‘allyuh go keel we’.
Given these uninspiring attempts to excite the population, I conclude that both major parties have either run out of ideas or are simply unable to tap into the creative pools of talent which exist throughout our country.
Creatives, like many others, are stymied by Covid-19 and are barely surviving. How is it that the talent pool being showcased does not reflect our abundance of young creatives?
The lyrics feel familiar and the thematic messages provide nothing new. Superimpose on this flatness, speeches which are filled with accusations and disgust and you have campaigns which are noisy, empty and bland.
Covid-19 provided an opportunity to re-imagine our entire economy including the way we engage in electioneering. The old campaign messages are not reflecting the new reality of life in the 21st century.
Instead of grasping that opportunity for re-imagination, we have simply taken old, tired campaigns and dropped them onto digital platforms. The result is that audiences experience a range of emotions from disengagement to confusion.
If there are messages of our economic difficulties, they are lost on the population. Neither party is telling us about our need to reduce our almost $6 billion import bill. We are not being told about the lifestyle changes we must make in order to survive.
Instead it is noise about who stole more from the treasury and when charges will be laid. Citizens are being bombarded by an incoherence which does not point to a way forward.
Whoever is left standing at the end of the count on 10 August 2020 has a monumental task to restructure our economy. The semi-welfare state which we have designed over the years has to be dismantled.
We can no longer afford to pay people for make-work activities but herein lies an opportunity. We can insist that CEPEP/DEWD/URP workers split their day into ‘X’ hours for physical labour and ‘Y’ hours to embark on some kind of educational course which is evaluated and monitored.
The opportunity here is to keep people employed while preparing them for the next wave of demand in the digital space—but this requires monitoring and evaluation to keep people focused and on target. Infrastructure must also be put in place to prevent the alleged favours-done-for-promotions which has been the cause of problems in these types of programs.
Whoever is left standing has to reduce the $6 billion dollar food import bill. This means re-shaping the collective palette of T&T citizens away from imported food to enjoying what we grow locally.
If each household can feed itself using more locally-produced items, we will see a reduction in the food import bill while building a sense of joy and pride in consuming what is local.
Whoever is left standing must have a plan to focus on healing our communities and moving our youth away from gang culture, guns and drugs. This means teaching community-based alternatives for conflict resolution from preschool levels right up to high-school.
It also means re-engineering our education system to avoid non-academically inclined students from being alienated, so that they feel included and accepted within the school community.
Diversification of our economy has been discussed for decades, but if past performance is any indication of future behaviour then I expect a continued focus on the energy sector for our salvation.
Given the global collapse of oil prices and the thrust in several large countries toward renewable energy sources, we can anticipate reduced revenue streams which means we cannot sustain the lifestyles of the past.
Our survival requires a leader who is people-centered and able to communicate our new reality to a population that has become exhausted with—though reliant on—patronage and nepotism.