Herding cats to immunity

BC Pires -
BC Pires -

THANK GOD IT'S FRIDAY

BC PIRES

IN OUR near 60 years of independence, and in the 40 years since I first voted in 1981, the first general election that enfranchised 18-year-olds like me, I’ve never once been disappointed by any of our several governments.

Not once.

Because I’ve never expected anything at all from any one of them.

Like Mahatma Gandhi, who when asked what he thought of Western civilisation replied he thought it would be a very good idea, I’ve always maintained I would support the government of TT from the moment I saw any sign of it.

I have expected nothing from any sitting TT government.

And yet they’ve all failed to deliver.

No matter their particular circumstances, the crisis of their moment or the historical challenge demanded of or opportunity presented by their term, every one of what we so loosely call “our governments” has failed in its critical mission entirely.

After independence, eg, “the Doc” should have unified the Mother Trinidad & Tobago he claimed to idealise – but the first mainly-African PNM government solidified and institutionalised racial voting by tactical alliance with Muslim Indians. In 1970, a black prime minister presided over a Black Power revolution. In 1995, a prime minister whose lifelong slogan was “let those who labour hold the reins” played golf with the group he disparaged as “the parasitic oligarchy.” In 1986, the best shot we ever had at government, Lloyd Best’s “party of parties,” the National Alliance for Reconstruction that took decades to bring together collapsed in days under the weight of hubris, self-interest and self-importance. Name a government and I can pinpoint its essential failure.

But even by our non-, topi tambo- or reverse-standards, the current government has to be admired for its determination to get pretty much everything wrong. Whoever thought we would be nostalgic for the wisdom of Patrick Manning?

More than, worse than the strategic blunders was the failure to bring together the people of TT, broken in spirit and pocket, to face the challenge as one. The best PM Rowley could think to do was call for a national day of prayer and and the worst was to seek to blame the Opposition for the current crisis, where people are dropping like flies, regardless of which colour T-shirt they wear at election time.

I’ve never expected any Trinidadian or Tobagonian prime minister, cabinet or government to do what the country needed.

But, then, I’ve never expected any individual Trini or ’Bagonian to do it, either.

Different Trinidadian governments – an oxymoron along the lines of “military intelligence” or “a definite maybe” – have spent more than $50 billion a year for decades now in exactly the same way: so that the country ends up broke, with almost nothing to show for it but big, empty buildings. And rich politicians.

So, in keeping with my understanding of our situation/predicament, I expect nothing of this one.

But it’s very clear what it must do, very quickly.

Vaccinate every-firetrucking-body.

There may be explanations of why it took so long to get vaccines but there are no excuses.

And vaccines won’t work for us all if too many people refuse them.

And I have a sneaking suspicion we are about to discover that not enough of us understand the basic science behind vaccines to allow us to get to a point of even relative safety.

And this is the only task any Trinidad government has ever had to really, truly get done. We can survive energy price collapse, murder, floods and hurricanes.

But if enough of us refuse to pick up this vaccine, all fall down.

Because, more likely than not, the variants will soon be stronger than the vaccines.

So forgive Keith and Terrence and the whole pack of jokers all their failings, and the failings of all their forerunners, red or yellow.

If this government can get the misguided people who want to refuse the vaccine to take it, they become, at once, the greatest government we’ve ever had.

By virtue of becoming the first one to ever do what was truly important.

But count the likes the anti-vaxxers get on Facebook and your hopes go down as their numbers go up.

I hope for the best possible result.

But I know what to expect.

BC Pires is anticipating the announcement of official government vaccine fetes. Read the full version of this column on Saturday at www.BCPires.com

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"Herding cats to immunity"

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