Pandemic political pawns

 Debbie Jacob -
Debbie Jacob -

I WAS impressed with how well the Government handled the covid19 pandemic in its early stages. For the first time in the 26 years I have lived in this country, I actually had some faith in government. Now, I’m afraid to say, the election destroyed any faith I have in politicians. The two main political parties lost much of their credibility because they did not enforce social distancing or wearing masks at political meetings and political gatherings leading up to the elections.

Both parties let us down and endangered us with their lackadaisical attitude in these political gatherings. You can’t expect us to listen to what you have been preaching about safety and then ignore what you did with senseless political meetings. It’s going to be a very steep, uphill climb to regain the faith and support that the Government garnered way too easily in those early stages of dealing with the pandemic that threatens all of us.

How does the Government now feel it will get full compliance from people on its covid19 rules when it broke the rules to suit its own purpose – namely winning an election? You made those of us who try to abide by the guidelines lose faith in you while the Opposition reminded us that politics boils down basically to the same crabs in one barrel.

Trust is something that is very difficult – if not impossible – to regain once it is lost. The least you could do now is admit you set a bad example while you complain daily about those not complying with your covid19 rules.

I have heard reporters in those daily media conferences pose questions about whether the Government is seeing any increase in covid19 cases related to those political meetings that violated all the rules we were given about how to deal with covid19.

In the media conferences that I saw, the Government conveniently sidestepped the issue by saying none of the people who tested positive admitted to being at a political meeting. The problem is we saw those political gatherings on social media, and we know that the Government did not enforce its own rules.

I am still horrified about what I saw. On the weekend before the election, I took my dog Rambo for a drive so that I could get CNG at the gas station just inside Diego Martin.

We passed a cavalcade of maxi-taxis stuffed full of people wearing no masks. I passed them from the gas station going all the way up the foreshore. There were hundreds of people inside those maxis. You have preached enough times to us about the dangers of mass gatherings for us to realise you dropped the ball.

As far as I’m concerned, you reduced us all to political pawns in this pandemic. Because both sides were afraid of spoiling the fun or the fete, both political parties allowed dangerous mass gatherings because votes were more important than our safety. You forgot that every move politicians make is symbolic. It either feeds or destroys trust.

Those political gatherings told us a lot about leadership on both sides. Powerful, caring leaders could have stopped that blatant disregard for safety regulations in this pandemic. All you had to do was tell people we cannot have a meeting without your masks. Put on your masks.

As a matter of fact, did we really need to have large political meetings in this time? Were they that important? Did they swing an election one way or another? In most of the places where these political meetings occurred, the political party hosting them couldn’t have given a seat to the opposition if they wanted to.

In my naivete, I was actually waiting for the UNC or PNM to say, “We won’t be having any political gatherings this election because your health and safety and well-being are too important to us. We cannot afford to overwhelm our healthcare system. We must respect our over-worked healthcare workers. We must think of each other for a change instead of ourselves. We must be mindful of the vulnerable and the elderly among us.”

That is what I wanted to hear before the election – not the same old, tired political platitudes and the needless personal attacks.

Now, it is important not to insult us or disregard us further. Don’t be condescending and hide behind those lame excuses that no one now testing positive for covid19 has admitted to being at a political meeting. Don’t treat us like fools. We are worth more than that. Above all, just know how angry many of us are with how you let us down.


"Pandemic political pawns"

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