The country needs consensus and compromise

Dear Editor,

Dr Joey Jagan reminds readers that I hedged my bets on an Obama victory but did not say why and he also stated, without evidence, that American political pundits wanted to pull down Obama (‘In the US Obama has committed to consensus and compromise …‘ SN, Nov 8).

An election prediction must be based on polling or some other kind of scientific modelling as was done by the University of Colorado which predicted a Romney victory – a model that has been right for decades.  They will now have to figure out why their model failed.

Letter writer and former SN columnist GHK Lall predicted (a month ago) an Obama defeat based on the economy and high unemployment figures; both have improved from a month ago and may help to explain Obama’s re-election. Mr Lall is right that in general in such a poorly performing  economy, sitting presidents tend to lose re-election. A lot of reasons can be cited for Romney’s failure to topple Obama – ethnic, religious, division within the Republican Party, lousy candidate, ineffective vice presidential candidate, poor campaign tactics, over confidence, etc – and for Obama’s victory – a fantastic, more effective campaign, Bill Clinton’s entry, party unity, etc.

I based my analysis of the election outcome on the dozens of polls and not guesswork or personal feeling.  The national polls gave a slight edge to Romney while the polls in battleground states gave a slight edge to Obama.  No pollster said for certain Obama or Romney would win, not even the partisan pollsters from Fox or MSNBC.  The polls were accurate as the election turned out to be a cliffhanger – a very, very close outcome in the states.  Romney almost took the national vote while Obama won almost all of the battleground states. I noted in all of my writings since early August (at a time when Romney was trailing by huge numbers) that the polls will swing back and forth and the election would be very close in November – it turned out exactly that way.  So contrary to what Dr Joey stated, analyzing the election was not about “hedging bets” but providing evidence to support a claim. In all of my writings I stated that Obama had the edge based on the polls.

I am not aware of political pundits (pollsters?) who wanted to pull down Obama.  Pundits offered commentaries based on various theories (or explanations). Except for partisans or politicos, the purpose of the commentaries is not to undermine the President.  And polls don’t undermine the President but assist him to address his weak areas.

I agree with Dr Cheddi Jr that the President delivered a masterful speech promising to reach out to the opposition. He delivered similar speeches in the past but failed to reach agreements with Republicans in a number of areas, primarily Obamacare. Mitt Romney also gave an excellent concession speech to bring healing, and appealed to Republicans and Democrats to put aside partisan politics and work for the nation. If he had delivered such an exceptional speech at his convention, he may have done better in the election.

Dr Jagan is right that Guyana needs a person of vision to unite the fractured country.  The PPP lacks a majority in parliament and should take measures to win over elements in the opposition. President Ramotar should have taken measures a while back to reconcile with those who left the party because of grievances and went over to AFC or APNU.

There were several wrongdoings within the PPP and with former Speaker Ralph Ramkarran and Moses Nagamootoo having left the party, Ramotar needs to find a way to bring back both into the fold.  Moses has shown he commands a base that the PPP needs in order to win an election, and PPP loyalists are not pleased that Ralph has resigned from the party. So healing among disenchanted PPPites is urgently needed if the party is to win another election.

Also, with budget planning started, the government needs the opposition to pass the budget in March and as such should work to build consensus on common agendas.  At the same time, the opposition has to be willing to work with the President and not overreach with their one seat majority. The politics of confrontation as happened since last December (particularly in July in Linden, August in Buxton, October in Agricola, etc) and continuously near the parliament will not take the country forward.

I agree with Dr Jagan that the country desperately needs consensus and compromise among the competing political forces. Everyone has to be willing to give and take.  It can’t be a one-way street. We can’t say Rohee must go and it is our way or the highway. Such a non-shifting position will lead to confrontation as experienced over the last few months. If President Ramotar can bring healing to his party and find commonality with the opposition, he will be a successful president. If not, the stalemate will continue and progress will be stymied.

Yours faithfully,
Vishnu Bisram



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