Guyana needs to be able to differentiate between empty suits and proper citizenship

Dear Editor,

I refer to the slight storm in a ‘tinnin cup’ surrounding the presidential ambitions of Charles Ramson, Jr, granted that the young would-be lion’s fervour seems to have been effectively quelled after a dismissive intervention by his superior, Bharrat Jagdeo.  

We can forgive his misuse of the word “state” when boasting about his knowledge of what he surely meant to be the arms of government – his political maturation under Mr. Jagdeo’s reign was no doubt the cause for the confusion or conflation.  We can also forgive Junior’s inclusion of dynastic, undemocratic governments (North Korea, for example) in his list of examples of countries with strong, young leaders around his age – the confusion or conflation of democratic practice with dynastic entitlement is surely not his fault, considering the political environment in which he came of age as a fortunate son.  What we should not forgive is our society’s periodic enthrallment with some neat young man in a suit saying lofty things that their record and their character do not support. 

 One of the reasons we will fail to progress as a country is that our political expectations remain shallow. Lloyd Best used to complain about Caribbean

societies being held in thrall to what he called ‘doctor politics’, the phenomenon wherein anyone with the title of Dr. before their name could start a political party based simply on that basic qualification. In Guyana, we’ve regressed even beyond that – anyone reasonably young, of mediocre intelligence, dressed in suit and tie and spouting platitudes is suddenly given credence.  Whether it’s Sherod Duncan on one side or Charles Ramson, Jr. on the other, the ambitiously oleaginous is virtually guaranteed an audience of sheep because from slavery to now, our capacity for active citizenship has remained retarded. We are so lazy in its exercise that we are ready to forfeit it to the faintest false glimmer of image, instead of demanding substance.

Of course it never lasts – all empty suits eventually collapse, but then we start the cycle of seeking the next pseudo-Messiah, some other shameless shill with little credibility and very often a history of insidious social, professional and political climbing.

Guyanese, you need to wake up and teach yourselves about the responsibilities and benefits of proper citizenship. You can blame one political party or the other, but it is ultimately you that give succour to the worst aspect of politics, you who inflate the empty suits and give them qualities they only pretend to possess. If you fail to wake up, the good life, or progress, or whatever slogan is meant to encapsulate development is going to continue to pass you by.

Yours faithfully,

Ruel Johnson

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