Learning from America’s Obama

Barack Obama won the heart of America with his clear articulation of social values.

America, the global leader of the free world, exercises such a matured democracy that the body politic moves past ethnic and racial divides to plant its governance firmly on social values.

Black and white in America is a big problem. If we in Guyana think we have a problem with race politics, given the ethnic gravitation of the ruling People’s Progressive Party and the historical People’s National Congress, we got nothing compared to the divides in America.

Black and white is a constant of American politics. The civil rights movement continues, 50 years after Martin Luther King’s breakthroughs.

The American population breaks down to 200 million whites and just 85 million blacks, many of these actually mixed. Smaller ethnic groups make up the rest of the nation.

For Obama to triumph against this ethno-racial background is astounding. It means that racism in America dies at the ballot box.

Americans vote on social values rather than ethno-racial concerns. We in Guyana become as caught up with American politics as the Americans. In fact, the American elections captivated the entire global village.

It’s quite astonishing to see nearly the entire global population, from Europe and Africa to Asia and the Americas, rooting for an Obama victory.

Obama articulates a fantastic new global citizen, and inspires the world because he leads the great America, the world’s greatest economic power, leader of pop culture around the globe and flier of the flag of freedom and equality. These social values the world now embraces.

If, as Marshall McLuhan insisted, the media is the message, then the Internet, that ubiquitous global media platform, is shaping social values, lining up perfectly with the American ideal of individual freedom, social equality and personal empowerment.

Obama embodies these values. And, in 2012, he symbolizes American leadership in humanity’s designing of this new age of the emerging 21st century.

Social values count now, rather than such ancient hang-ups as traditional values, ethnic allegiance or racial preference. The tribe migrates to a new global citizen. And Obama is the world’s symbol of this new world.

That should send a strong message to the Guyanese nation. We seem so far back from being a 21st century society. Our leaders seem helpless and unable to grasp this essential truth of today’s world – social values count, rather than traditional strongholds.

We look across the divides in our nation, and despair.

Our own election in November, 2011, failed to generate this kind of inspiration we see in the American process.


Our elections saw the old foes, the ruling People’s Progressive Party and the struggling People’s National Congress, despite their token rhetoric, pandering to ethnic voting. Despite the Civic and the APNU coalitions, these parties remain dinosaurs of a by-gone era.

We celebrated the partnership between Khemraj Ramjattan and Raphael Trotman that birthed the Alliance For Change, and got guys like Moses Nagamootoo and Richard Van-West Charles sitting together at one political table. But the AFC’s vision has fallen by the wayside. No one in the party articulates it anymore.

The AFC utterly failed to transform the national conversation in this country, to move from political loyalties towards traditional strongholds, to that new, contemporary era of social values.

Many, many Guyanese – home and abroad – hoped in a new vision in the AFC. The party failed, largely because its major American funders dictated the message to the Guyanese people. And those funders did not buy the Ramjattan-Trotman partne rship. Rather, too many jumped on board because of personal vendettas.

We must articulate a new Guyanese social value of freedom, social equality and personal empowerment, with a strong revival of the Trotman-Ramjattan vision, embodied in the Nagamootoo-Van-West Charles team.

The People’s Progressive Party failed so miserably over the past 20 years. Not only has successive PPP/C governments failed to transform our society to a 21st century developed land, but it has overseen the fall of national literacy to a shameful 20 percent.

In fact, the national census workers complained that the average Guyanese is unable to understand or answer census questions. How could we have fallen so terribly?

We could have the greatest macro-economic figures to parade on spreadsheets and gloat over as our “success”, but if our children and university graduates cannot complete a census form, we ought to hang our heads in absolute shame.

This illiteracy shows up glaringly in the State-owned media. The Guyana Chronicle must be at its worst state ever in its long, troubled history.

The writing is poor and atrocious and the journalism it pretends to serve its owners – the taxpayers – is so miserable that few read the newspaper.

Letters, features and articles are poorly written and thought-out. But how anyone could be proud of those terrible Editorial pieces in the Chronicle is beyond any sensible Journalist, or educated mind.

This strangulation of the State media fails to generate any strong action from the Opposition-controlled Parliament. Both the AFC and A Partnership for National Unity, that ten-party coalition, fail to get Parliament to act to end the State’s dictatorial governance over the State newspaper, State radio and State TV.

When we look at the maturity of America, and compare the situation in our homeland, we excuse the difference with cliches of widespread poverty, or the fact that we are still developing.

Yet, nations across the Caribbean are just as young as us, and most started off way poorer than we are today. But, across the region we see Caribbean nations maturing and living for social values, as does America and Europe and Asia, rather than hang on backwardly to traditional strongholds, at the expense of national progress.

The Guyanese nation must take a leaf out of Barack Obama’s book, and embrace the new global social values that are defining 21st century humanity, while shunning those b–ackward allegiances to traditional strongholds.

This, to quote Obama, would be “a mark of our liberty” as free global citizens of the Guyanese nation.


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