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Friday 15 December 2017

Treating a diseased electorate

If you watched the previous United National Congress administration and its political cronies allegedly “tief wind” before being forced to witness this current train-wreck called the People’s National Movement stumble around in the dark for the past two years, you are probably fully aware and wholly convinced that Trinidad and Tobago is in deep trouble.

And we’re in deep trouble not because we have a bunch of old leaders exuding arrogant incompetence; it is actually because we have a bunch of old people voting for arrogant incompetence.

I am a man who has no problems apologising when he’s wrong, and today is one of those days where I plan to offer my sincerest apologies to every selfish politician, greedy financier, corrupt police officer, boldface bandit and lawless citizen because I was wrong about who is ultimately responsible for this failed state in which we live.

For almost three years as a columnist, I have accused the people on top of being the reason for our country’s demise, but I have now realised that I was dead wrong. None of those people are the problem; they are simply the symptoms and side effects of a disease called an uninformed electorate.

The UNC and the PNM are the result of a racist, tribal, ill-informed, biased, myopic, and in some cases, uneducated electorate, who for the most part, has failed to understand that these people would not end up in our parliament if we stop putting them there. Yet, every general election, after calling into every radio programme to complain about corruption and incompetence, this electorate returns to the polls to vote out one party to exchange it for another that is even worse, or best case scenario, just as bad. The problem remains that whilst I cannot wait to see the backs of this Rowley-led group of misfits, I dread the idea of the UNC having control of our treasury ever again.

The country desperately needs a new option, but this political system is not designed to allow for a non-tribal group of people to challenge the next general election. And for this fatally dysfunctional democracy, we have to thank Dr Eric Williams, whose egregious stewardship of a nascent Trinidad and Tobago has left us with problems embedded so deeply into our culture that now we have nothing positive besides desperate hope and boundless faith in our destiny being steered away from the cliff we’re pelting towards.

But when you think of a democratic system being entrenched in a Constitution passed by a government headed by a megalomaniac who was in power despite being voted in by only 22 per cent of the registered electorate, one has to question how it was possible for a democracy to be embedded by an undemocratically appointed government. After all, a democracy is government of the people, by the people, for the people, and in 1971, the people refused to elect the PNM as its government.

Nevertheless, the electorate is screwing over our country with its gullibility and ready acceptance of political propaganda and distractions. Despite everything that has been happening in this country for the past decade – corruption, crime and incompetence – come Election Day, better judgement is replaced by fear and racism.

A misinformed, ill-informed and uninformed voter is a disease, and is more dangerous than a drunk, inexperienced and unqualified driver.

In order to legally operate a vehicle, a person must learn to drive, practice driving, and then pass both a written and practical test before being permitted to drive a vehicle. The electorate’s right to vote does not include such a process, hence the reason why voting without being fully aware of all the facts is akin to driving whilst intoxicated – your faculties are dead.

I am very irritated by people, especially millennials, who don’t give a rat’s ass about the political climate in the country. Now, what information a person consumes is their right, and that is absolutely fine if they do not go out to vote. You see, when I’m at a restaurant deciding what to eat, that’s entirely my choice. If it’s junk food, only I live with the health consequences, so whether or not I know the risks, it affects no one else but me. But when voting, we make decisions that affect every single person in this country.

As far-fetched as it sounds, there should be some kind of basic social studies test before voting because come next election, this forgetful electorate is going to return the UNC to government and is now self we dogs dead. Some people need to be banned from voting because honestly, the 20 per cent who know and care, will give us better government than the 75 per cent who don’t.


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