Bracing for a political revolution

Jamille Broome writes a weekly column for the Newsday. 

If history is an accurate indication of the future, the Trinidad and Tobago electorate suffers from a political itch every 30-odd years, which is also interspersed with 20-year attempts at violent revolutions. And by my calculation, that means that we are due for radical political change, which for the sake of our country, I hope comes peacefully and democratically.

Changes to oppressive regimes only come in two forms: education or revolution. The option of education involves the sensible voting of an enlightened society to make choices based on knowledge, as opposed to ignorant biases; whereas, the revolutionary option involves the violent overthrow of the government. Of course, the most desired option is the former, but after the last seven years, and as we continue hurtling towards a failed state, a sense of dread has me feeling that the latter is quite imminent.

What I mean by the 30-year-itch is the fact that Dr Eric Williams’ brand of the People’s National Movement (PNM) ran TT for 30 years from 1956 to 1986, until the population realised that the country needed a change of governance and elected the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR).

Then, in almost the same 30-year period, the People’s Partnership (PP) government was ushered in when the political itch returned after a wave of discontent with Patrick Manning’s dictatorial tendencies, which the current Prime Minister, Dr Keith Rowley, seems to have fully embraced and made into a reality.

Nevertheless, the PP reign did not turn out to be the change the country anticipated or needed because that government only succeeded in tricking us into exchanging a looming dictatorship for a complete kleptocracy.

On a side note, I am always thankful that I was not residing here at the time of the 2010 general election because had I been back home already, I most likely would have voted for the PP, which would have made me complicit in elevating to power, the biggest con-job in the history of local politics.

So, as a result of the PP’s, let’s call it “mismanagement,” the 2015 general election could not come fast enough for the majority of the electorate to vote them out.

In-between these democratic changes, there has also been the violent side of attempts to re-take the country from politicians hell-bent on destroying our country for their personal gain.

Notwithstanding the major uprisings by the labour movement in 1919, 1937 and early 1960s, the Black Power Revolution followed by the Defence Force mutiny in 1970 was the first real glimpse of the underlying power of a frustrated citizenry. Then exactly 20 years later, the revolutionary itch came again when Abu Bakr and his men attempted to overthrow the government in 1990, for reasons I believe are still unknown.

The NAR was real change, but one can argue that the PP was just the catalytic eye-opener that the country needed to understand the importance of eliminating the United National Congress, their coalition “partners in crime” (pun intended) and the PNM from the political landscape. Although I’m no fortune teller or political analyst, I don’t think that our 30-year opportunity has passed with the electing of the PP because there is absolutely no way the country can survive until 2046 without change, so on that premise, I strongly believe that 2020 will see new credible leaders emerge.

Unfortunately, TT is also due for a violent revolution, although around the 20-year mark the former prime minister alleged that there was a plot to assassinate her and several cabinet members in an effort to destabilise the country. True or not, there has been no uprising, so everything is still simmering just below the surface.

Whether or not you care much about politics, every patriot knows that change is necessary for the country to strive. But as I look at it, everything in life has a balance: one cannot be sad without being happy, a ball cannot go up without coming down, one cannot succeed without first failing, and most importantly, to have peace there must be war, whether that be political or one that is violently civil.

I’d hate for this country to be destroyed the way it was in 1990, so my prayer is that we figure out how to bring about real democratic politic change in 2020. Because if we can’t figure out how to remove and replace the UNC/PP and PNM with a movement dedicated to patriotism, populism and democracy, we better brace ourselves for that moment when the frustration of the population explodes.


"Bracing for a political revolution"

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