For starters, the announcement concerning the availability of retired Brigadier General David Granger must be viewed as a welcome development.
If nothing else, it could provide a much needed spark for the main opposition, though not necessarily the entire opposition. At this point, it must be made unambiguously clear that, for better or worse, the PNC is an integral part of the foundation, and a significant cornerstone, of the political structure of this nation.
Whether liked or not, this is the way it is and should be, and any attempts to deny or diminish is an exercise in futility. With this out of the way, it must be said that notwithstanding the gifts, skills, and accumulated wisdom associated with the Brigadier, it is somewhat late in the day; arguably, too late.
When the mechanics of decision-making are finalized, and a candidate selected – this is assuming a seamless process – there is left but a handful of months to work with the interested public. For hardcore supporters, this is not a problem. However, beyond this core, the available time to reach out and inspire, or at least persuade, weighs unfavourably.
As volunteered years ago, opposition campaigns had to have started the day after election results become official. It begins with internal examination through live post mortems, complete with discoveries, admissions and changes. The recent examples of Trinidad and Rowley, and the UK and Miliband speak to this approach. New leadership, through its own distinctive aura, is empowered to unveil its vision, tactics, planks, and brain trust in a timely and comprehensive manner; to share its political cognitive map, which could range from insights surrounding old ballot boxes to new powerbrokers to the demands of the 21st century landscape.
There is sufficiency of time to take stands on core issues and developments; to reach out untiringly; to gather momentum, to sharpen focus, and to recede very rarely from the attention of society. With respect to Brigadier Granger, the runway is just too short for him to gain the lift and thrust necessary for authoritative take-off. This takes on particular significance, given the existing local terrain and prevailing winds. No question that his announcement rates as a potentially formidable development, but it is one that requires time and space to thrive.
Still, he might inspire and make some headway nationally, but only if willing to address tangled narratives, and defuse the ancient wellsprings of extreme passions. It is the tedious, thankless work of tomorrow that starts today, but which would be inconsequential in 2011.
The commander must recognize that outside voters are not going to fall over themselves rushing to the voting place to express disgust with incumbents and rally to him; the window of time is too narrow.
Realistically, this is not about any future that the commander may present, but the history of the political combine he represents. That history – whether overblown or even partially accurate – will be exhumed, dissected, and brandished.
It demands Herculean labours of identifying truths, calibrating messages, and winning minds to start to overcome; these are not overnight projects. Here is the bottom line: only through the hard work and heavy lifting of canvassing, grassroots lobbying, and reaching out near and far on a sustained basis, can there be some semblance of hope that change will come.
For Brigadier Granger – or whoever is chosen – there must be a readiness to articulate certain storylines with persuasive power: What is different today about the main opposition since the last election? How has it evolved since 1992? What can it come to mean to those who have lost faith with the PPP, the domestic system of things, and even the country? The time has arrived to confront contradictions and eclipse doubt in an effort to alleviate, if not, eliminate, hesitancy in what is really a dry run for beyond 2011.
Internally, the arrival of this imperator – and sometimes Renaissance man – to the opposition might infuse it with the vitality so lacking in the welterweight street fighter now listening to his own requiem.
However, he would do well to recall that Moses was denied the Promised Land, and limited to visions from afar. And that David, though loved by man and God, was reduced to nakedness and wretchedness.
Aside from the internal reconciliations, there are the other present-day realities. There is the obligation that propels one bloc to go out and vote for the clan. Where the primary purpose is to keep others away from power; it is not a vote of confidence in the brotherhood, simply a reflexive self defence mechanism to ward off old dangers and the irrefutable logic of a blood oath.
In addition, there is nothing that spurs large cross-sections of the Guyanese voting public any more. Corruption, crime, narcotics, disrespect, and scandal are all viewed as the price of continuity, survival, and prosperity; it is considered dirt cheap. Within the ranks of the unmoved are non-traditional supporters of the ruling party cashing in on the bonanza.
Further, fewer and fewer seem to be so unduly exercised with maladministration in all of its sordid manifestations, that it prompts to a cutting of the nose to spite the face. After all, what is a little jobbery? Transparencies, accountability, ethics in government are wonderful things, but not when they annihilate the pocketbook. Here is the convergence of factors: timing, history, fear, and a corrupt environment, that militates against the Brigadier and any other belated comers.
This is how the Great Election Race of 2011 appears in the rearview mirror of 2010. It is an occasion lacking hope or excitement, and degraded by low speculation of a third term, lowered expectations predicated on endless delay, and the high drama of a foregone conclusion.