The Goldilocks opposition
Yes, it blows hot, it blows cold, and falls asleep at crucial times for embarrassing intervals. However, there is good news: it could be brought together, after much difficulty, and made to stand upright and focus; but only after much kicking and screaming.
The bad news is that there is a high probability that it could fall apart rather quickly. Like Goldilocks, this tale appears to be destined for a jarring ending and headlong return to the political bushes.
Consider the birth pangs: A hard and realistic look at the political house reveals few options or willing bodies present. Potential marriages of convenience and opportunity increasingly assume the ambience of shotgun charged arrangements, through the harnessing of disparate and tremulous political elements from across a nebulous and unsettled spectrum. Through force of circumstances, whatever is fused together and surfaces in final form would include a patchwork of the ambitious, the disillusioned, and the disturbed – as well as the disturbing.
Within this intriguing and unspectacular beginning are men who recognize the application and accuracy of FDR’s words to Guyana: “Our enemies of today are the forces of privilege and greed within our borders…” All are aware of – and angry over – the oligarchic excesses and aggression practised. Yet, the appearances of commitment and togetherness suffer from the unforgiving, immutable deadweight of the past.
As William Faulkner lamented, “the past is never dead, it’s not even past.” And it weighs heavily and frightens in this mysterious house.
As if the past is not enough, there is also the issue of who will be the leader, the chosen golden child. On this, there is no shortage of volunteers; in fact, there appears to be none who is willing to stand for the humiliation of being anything less than number one.
For sure Kamla’s ascension only further inspired the platoon of excitable local believers; aspirants enthralled by dreams of overnight miracles and instant glory, and who conveniently forget Winston Dookeran and his patriotism. In squabbling Guyana, there appears to be no stomach for such self sacrifice; only a hunger for power that transcends far more urgent matters, and the danger of lean and hungry looking men.
In this fateful hour of mounting unease, there are Dark Princes longing to be the leader, and jockeying feverishly for the coveted pole position. Perhaps they could learn from the US Marines where officers eat last, and the men fight for each other.
Now, assuming that leadership and composition issues can be satisfactorily resolved, what will then be offered to the nation? And making the real large additional assumption that there is some success at the polls, what follows next? Who gets what, and how is the prize divided? More importantly, what will be the priorities and the way forward? Is it the healing of untreated wounds? Cleaning the overpowering institutional stables?
Lifting the lot of the downtrodden? The nation would like to know what is in mind on the race question, the drug question, the in(security) question, and all the other smouldering questions of the day. Clearly, this would be one uneasy crown on a bobbing head; one that is hopefully of a normal size. Given the angst and paralysis that prevails, there is doubt that the fragile centre would be elastic enough to hold when the squalls arrive.
Even so, it would be offensive to think that this nation suffers from a lack of men who can prove to be constructive and noble, and authentically visionary. At another level, one must still wonder… This society can too easily find itself like the British army of World War I which was once famously described as, “lions led by donkeys.” And it has had more than its share of such an experience.
It is in the devilish place of damned if it pursues longed-for change; and damned if it sits on its hands and votes with its skin. To some extent, it is the difference between being run over by an empty garbage truck or by an occupied hearse. One holds the promise of cleaning and has the capacity to do so, while the other makes a living from the grief of innocents and strangers; sometimes friends, too.
Meanwhile, as the deliberations, compromises and strategizing unfold the incumbents are anything but slothful. They are busily engaged in charm offensive safaris while bearing Grecian gifts of the pork-barrel variety to neighbourhoods previously excommunicated for old loyalties and incorrigibility.
Notwithstanding outcries over approaches, the government is simply outhustling, outmanoeuvering, and even outsmarting the Goldilocks boys. It fights below its weight to gain an unfair advantage, and then compounds matters by hitting low and after the bell. The plain truth is that it might have used borderline tactics, but probably gained irrecoverable ground.
The government gets away with this, because the opposition in the making is preoccupied with testing the temperature of its porridge and the compatibility of its bed. There is the studious avoidance of the prodigious labours demanded for success.
When men should be galvanized by the hardscrabble existence of most Guyanese, they prove alarmingly self-centred. It is said that successful politicians have a sixth sense for timing, issues, and adversaries; however, the gathering opposition apparently has difficulties in locating the first five of those senses.
Instead of identifying and rallying around a powerful unifying banner (other than race), there are only lost weekends skirmishing over guess who came to dinner as the nation swallows the grapes of wrath.
Like Goldilocks, there is more interest in creature comforts and impulses than on mustering the political consensus and will to mount a formidable challenge; to be about resolve and not hesitancy; and about more torque and less dilettantism.
These are the imperatives of the moment and required for the arrival of a new and fundamentally different day.
The predilections towards easy chairs, gentle beds, and porridge just right, will lead to the same fabled conclusion: the disturbed sleeping beauty, the nightmare of returning householders, and a rush towards the anonymity of prior oblivion.