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Friday 6 December 2019
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Vote for yourself

PAOLO KERNAHAN
PAOLO KERNAHAN

WELL, IT’S here. The day no one cares about has finally arrived! I’m kidding, of course. There may be many Trinis who are revved up to head to the polls and cast their ballots in the local government elections. Some, though, will go to the polls with the same enthusiasm reserved for using the bathroom in a hawk and spit.

Others will stay away in defiance. Still, voting isn’t a responsibility, as many would have us believe. It is a right you can choose. In some communities where the choice is between an ornery manicou and a belligerent possum, the only reasonable option is NOTA.

Whenever an election rolls around, I’m reminded of that Mary MacGregor hit in the 70s. The lyrics go something like this:

“Torn between two losers, feeling like a fool.

Hating both of you is breaking all the rules.”

Look, my recall on the lyrics is a bit hazy. Sugar, Sugar by The Archies was more my speed in those days.

A vote in our ramshackle democracy is sold to the public as their sacred agency. It still hasn’t dawned on the people of this fair nation (read as Donald Trump’s scurrilous appellation for certain Third World countries) that folding a piece of paper, shoving into a box, then whining about your choice every day for five years is no power at all.

Anyone stirred by what passed for political platform discourse over the last few weeks was hardly likely convinced by either major party’s strategies to attack the challenges of our time.

The voters galloping to the polls are the ones in whom the hucksters on the hustings merely activated two primal instincts encoded in their political DNA – fear and loathing; fear, and racial or tribal hatred of the other. They’re coming with their kleptocracy/ corruption/ incompetence/ nepotism/ cronyism to take away our jobs/ contracts/ man/ gyal/ digginity/ lunch money.

For the most part, when the politicians talk, they are striking a match. You, the voter, are nothing more than a match. The people who would pour poison into your ears see you as mere cannon fodder to help them achieve their objectives.

At the close of the polls, you’ve surrendered your paper and must now return to the life oppressed by a paucity of choice. The poll tax everyone must pay is the enduring suffering under the thumb of utterly failed public service delivery, rubbish healthcare, soaring crime, a dead economy and voices repeatedly telling you things aren’t as bad as you know them to be.

In Diego Martin on Friday last, a loudspeaker announced the impending arrival of a motorcade, like advance troops of marauding rebel forces bent on pillage and plunder. “Your former prime minister Misses Ka-ma-la Passad-Bissessar is leading a moto-cade in your area right nowwww!”

My mind processed that information in the same way I’d hear an announcement from the roving insect vector control department vehicles coming to spray for mosquitoes. I closed the windows and drapes and covered my parrot and my ears.

Moments later, as I was driving on the Diego Martin Main Road, the motorcade arrived. In front of me an attractive young woman alighted from one of the UNC motorcade’s troop carriers. She was wearing a pair of short pants that looked like it was airbrushed on, except the airbrush artist was hurriedly called away from the job to put out a fire in his studio.

She swished about her faux-blonde tresses and limply waved a UNC flag. It was as if even she recognised the inherent ridiculousness of girl in hot pants selling politics like those Guinness girls or even that scantily clad woman on the faded “double-dog” poster tacked up on the door of the First and Last Bar.

That jersey, flag and motorcade politics practised with relish by most political parties seems, to me, so out of step with today’s realities. Jam and wine, humourless picong and dud bombshells are incongruous with the demands of right now.

Politicians, though, dispense what they know to a people who don’t or won’t know better.

Still, jump high or slither lower, racist vitriol is a stain that far outlasts electoral ink. After politicians have extracted what they need from us, they will take their places above while we ketch our respective skins below. They do not live in the divide they help us dig.

Peace and societal equilibrium can only be achieved when we admit that to ourselves. We should all be inspired to vote for ourselves first.

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