Call for new blood, but same ole dirty pol­i­tics

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT - By Alexis B. Mont­gomery

At its most test­ing, a ca­reer in pol­i­tics may be marked by glo­ri­ous un­cer­tain­ties. When so­ci­eties are preg­nant with the un­com­fort­able birthing of change, when there are per­va­sive crises, anger, in­jus­tice, con­fu­sion and gen­eral dis­con­tent with the sta­tus quo, this pur­suit has brought un­timely deaths to many lead­ers on a world­wide scale – from Julius Cae­sar to Mal­colm X, Martin Luther King Jr. the Kennedys, and Mau­rice Bishop. In Saint Lu­cia life for politi­cians is not quite as dra­matic as in other parts of the world be­cause peace­ful liv­ing is a con­stant and gov­er­nance sta­ble, but, at the very least, it can be ap­pre­ci­ated that the de­mands of public life can be ex­haust­ing and, by their very na­ture, come at great cost to one’s per­sonal and fam­ily life.

Notwith­stand­ing the in­her­ent chal­lenges, there have been stri­dent calls by the elec­torate for new blood, so to speak; a call for new faces to come for­ward to par­tic­i­pate in pol­i­tics and public ser­vice. The calls have been sounded for peo­ple who can bring that fresh vigour, good char­ac­ter, wis­dom and vi­sion needed to ef­fect change for the bet­ter. Com­plaints seem to be set against the back­drop of gen­eral dis­en­chant­ment and dis­con­tent with the level of rep­re­sen­ta­tion de­liv­ered to the peo­ple by both the cur­rent and past ad­min­is­tra­tions.

Ad­di­tion­ally calls for new blood were stem­ming from an ap­par­ent wave of frus­tra­tion with the amount of tox­i­c­ity that now ex­ists in the lo­cal po­lit­i­cal cli­mate. The in­sis­tence on a more dig­ni­fied or noble ap­proach to this pro­fes­sion, as Aris­to­tle de­scribed it, has not been met. Although there is wide­spread sup­port for another par­a­digm; the stub­born­ness of some in­di­vid­u­als who seem bent on main­tain­ing the sta­tus quo has per­pet­u­ated an un­invit­ing en­vi­ron­ment that will not at­tract a new breed of young po­lit­i­cal as­pi­rants.

Over the years a very sin­is­ter ac­tiv­ity called gut­ter pol­i­tics, which sees op­pos­ing party mem­bers smear and tear at each other to no end, has ce­mented it­self as a pat­tern of be­hav­iour which has taken a brazen nose-dive and now stands at an all-time low. This trend has prompted harsh crit­i­cisms by the elec­torate but ap­par­ently to no avail, be­cause so en­grained are some key, in­flu­en­tial per­sons in this be­hav­iour, it is per­haps im­pos­si­ble for them to change. It can­not be over-em­pha­sized that pol­i­tics with­out dig­nity and re­spect can­not and will not serve this is­land well. The ef­fort to at­tract the best brains, best tal­ents, ed­u­cated, young pro­fes­sion­als, in­no­va­tors and vi­sion­ar­ies into this dys­func­tional cur­rent cy­cle of maypwi and cut-throat pol­i­tics isn’t go­ing to get very far. Such de­sir­able in­di­vid­u­als, for the sake of self-preser­va­tion, would not plunge into the ex­ist­ing “mange chocon”. In­stead they will con­tinue to hang back in the wings, look­ing on from the side­lines but never com­ing for­ward to con­trib­ute mean­ing­fully.

It is time for trib­al­ism, per­sonal at­tacks, de­ri­sion, in–fight­ing, dis­unity, ridicule, char­ac­ter as­sas­si­na­tion and out­right de­cep­tion to cease. Some of­fer the pla­cat­ing ex­cuse that such is the crea­ture (or mon­ster) that is pol­i­tics, and what hap­pens here, hap­pens ev­ery­where else. How­ever, two main po­lit­i­cal camps seem not to ac­cord in equal mea­sure re­gard or pas­sion for re­spect and re­straint to­wards each other, nor do they pro­mote these graces among their sup­port­ers. Un­for­tu­nately as a re­sult of this air of di­vi­sive­ness the cit­i­zenry also per­pet­u­ate that at­ti­tude to­wards each other, to the ex­tent that when the need arises to en­gage in con­sen­sus-build­ing dis­cus­sions, ad­vo­cacy and com­pro­mise on na­tional is­sues, in­di­vid­u­als - whether elected or oth­er­wise - ap­pear to have great dif­fi­culty in em­ploy­ing a tem­per­ate de­meanour and of­ten dis­play bla­tant in­tol­er­ance to views that dif­fer from theirs, as demon­strated even in the House of Assem­bly.

The elec­torate has de­manded an el­e­va­tion in pol­i­tics on all lev­els; the re­port from the Con­sti­tu­tion Re­view Com­mis­sion il­lus­trates that. A new era is beck­on­ing and the minds of the peo­ple are fix­ated on mak­ing ma­jor leaps and bounds to­wards un­prece­dented change in the mod­els in­stalled since In­de­pen­dence. Now, more than ever, it is timely to boot the ex­ist­ing brand of ole, dirty pol­i­tics out of the way, to al­low for the re­turn of hon­our and dig­nity to this noble pro­fes­sion. A po­lit­i­cal ca­reer is spiked with its unique tri­umphs, pro­vid­ing politi­cians with count­less joys and other gains, par­tic­u­larly when such out­comes come by dint of sac­ri­fice, ded­i­ca­tion and hard work. Nev­er­the­less over­shad­ow­ing this noble call is the de­gen­er­a­tion of pol­i­tics at both the par­ti­san and state lev­els.

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