Non-confrontational politics is lazy politics

Dear Editor,
The following quote came from AFC Parliamentarian Ms. Sheila Holder, in a letter she wrote in SN 07.08.2010 in response to an article by Mr. Freddie Kissoon.  “However, I hoped nonetheless to transmit the message that my style, though not that of Mr Kissoon, would be respected in some quarters of the society that had grown wary of venting one’s spleen with no commensurate result or benefit.” The style Ms. Holder is referring to observers would deem the politics of non-confrontation, which has seemingly gained currency in some quarters in Guyana. Ms. Holder in the past has bemoaned political confrontation (Protest action) or “ruckus” as she refers to Mr. Kissoon’s confrontation with the ERC over its policy to exclude the media from its stakeholders meeting.

Whereas Ms. Holder’s response to Mr. Kissoon was specific to the ERC stakeholders’ meeting, it is symptomatic of the level and style of politics practiced by the opposition in post-Desmond Hoyte era politics in Guyana.

What puzzles me about Ms. Holder’s position, which also seems to be the position of her party, the Alliance For Change (AFC) and more broadly the position of the combined opposition in Guyana; is that non-confrontation is not a political tool used in any legitimate democratic society. In fact active political confrontation is widely regarded as the avenue by which democratic gains are made. Political confrontation becomes even more important in stagnant societies like Guyana where the ruling elites have usurped all power positions and have subverted institutions and the rule of law. Political confrontation becomes more important in a society that is ruled by elected dictatorship.

This non-confrontational and “non venting of spleen” style of politics that Ms Holder is advocating has not produced “commensurate benefit” or good governance, contrary to Ms. Holder’s argument in her letter. All the while the ruling PPP and President Jadgeo have created a racial autocracy where a high crime rate, political corruption and economic degradation have put Guyana in every infamous world ranking.

Non-confrontational politics is lazy politics. It is a style of politics that is preferred by the elites who desperately want to remain in good company of the ruling class and therefore do not want to rock the boat for fear of losing their preferential treatment in the society.

A good friend pointed out to me recently in a discussion, which I concurred with, that the middle class in Guyana has always been a non-confrontational class in the context of politics. The middle class maintains its privileged position and influence through its connections with the political administration (albeit a very corrupt one) in a political culture of centralism. Confrontation is not essential to the privileged few especially since their more comfortable existence allows them to derive benefits with a phone call to those in position they know. Therefore, one wonders whom Ms. Holder as a parliamentarian is representing when she advocates her position.

The politics of non confrontation has created the high level of apathy and inertia that have enveloped the society and which have jeopardized the chances of the opposition prevailing in the election process.

This politics of non-confrontation has created the space for the PPP administration to undermine the constitution, violate citizens’ human rights, maintain its practice of non-transparency and non-accountability; and marginalize racial groups.

Yours faithfully,
Dennis Wiggins

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