Dr. Kwame Nantambu

Politics of Fear vs. Politics of Race

Posted: April 08, 2004
By Dr. Kwame Nantambu

As the virus of labour unrest permeates the eco-political bodypolitic of TnT, a very scary and dangerous phenomenon seems to be playing itself out. On the one hand, the PNM under Patrick Manning is wearing the politics of fear gloves while the UNC under Basdeo Panday is wearing the politics of race gloves in this 36-Parliament member political boxing match.

The fact of the matter is that neither of these fighters are going to knock each other out; the only entity that would be left lying on its back in this match is the expendable, working masses, the proletariat, of TnT. Prime Minister Manning knows that he can promise the workers anything and whatever he wants just to win a general election because he not only knows but has also calculated that the PNM supporters have no where else to go. Manning is convinced that they must vote for the PNM. They will never vote for "those people" in the UNC. It is this psychological politics of fear factor that is Manning's ace-in-the-hole at any election time.

Manning can get away with whatever he extemporizes on the election platform and he knows it; hence, his categorizing the current labour unrest at LNG as "awild cat strike" and the about-face and rejection of his electoral promise of a multi-sectoral minimum wage.

Manning knows that the workers, the proletariat, will rant and rage but at the end of the day, they will still vote for the PNM rather than "those people" in the UNC.

Manning is playing this politics of fear mind-game to the hilt and he will continue to play it until the proletariat figures out where he is coming from.

In this regard, the adage :The threat of force is more potent than the actual use of force" is apropos here in TnT politics. Manning is skillfully and slickfully using this threat of a UNC government in power as the force to manipulate, deceive and control his supporters and constituents. It is working like a charm; so far, so good.

Patrick Manning will continue to succeed in using this fear card until a trustworthy, potent and effective alternative emerges to give the proletariat a Plan C from which to choose instead of the PNM (Plan A) and UNC (Plan B).

The sad legacy is that only when Manning sees such a serious alternative then and only then will he listen to the dictate of the masses and work to maximize their interests. At the present time, the PNM government is working to maximize the interests of a foreign, U.S.A.- based TransNational Corporation (TNE) and to hell with the workers,masses, who are employed therein.

Maybe, now is the time for the proletariat-masses of TnT to begin the process of forming their own political party--- a party that will truly be of the people, by the people and for the people.

The bottom-line is that there is vital need for a new pressure, political paradigm in TnT. The current labour unrest must serve as the catalyst to bring this into reality.

Manning must realize or must be made to realize that the masses brought his party into office and they will take it out of office, if necessary. The masses must let Manning know that they are sick and tired of being sick and tired and that they will no longer be hoodwinked, bamboozled and took by the PNM. Enough is enough.

The masses must let Prime Minister Manning know that he would not be allowed to play with people's lives and that a promise is a promise. Unless the masses put their political feet on Manning's neck, he will continue to take them for granted and they will be relegated to the "exclusion principle" status when it comes to public policy and governance under the PNM.

The public must understand that the current labour crisis originated with an ex tempo promise Manning made to the workers during last election. This crisis should serve notice to future politicians that they cannot just vent idle promises to people just to get their vote. People's lives and well-being are very serious matters and all politicians of every elk must be made to take the people seriously.

"Magnum Est P.N.M. Et Pravalebit--- Great is the P.N.M. and It Shall Prevail" maybe the time-tested logo of the PNM but the working, dissed masses, the proletariat today are much greater and stronger than the current PNM-Manning regime and if Manning does not change his anti-masses public policy position then the masses/people/workers will prevail instead. Be fore-warned, Mr. Prime Minister. You are not all powerful.

On the other hand, Basdeo Panday only has to mouth/shout racism and racial discrimination by and from the PNM to rally his supporters and constituents around the UNC flag.Panday does not have to prove any such allegations--- the words speak volumes as to his real, sinister, covert intentions.

Panday is also skillfully and slickfully using the politics of race card in order to conceal the overt ineptitude and corrupt nature of his regime while in office.

The use of the politics of race is Panday's weapon to make sure that his supporters do not vote for "those people" in the PNM. This is his ploy to manipulate, deceive and control them. It is also working like a charm; so far, so good.

In this current genre of politics in TnT, it seems that the only logical conclusion that can be drawn is that Panday just wants to carry the title of Prime Minister one more time before he disappears and rides into the political retirement sunset, while Manning just wants to go down in history as the Second Father of the Nation. It is just that simple as far as these two politicians are concerned. They couldn't care less about the majority of the people; they only care about themselves and their minor cronies, period.

The fact of the matter is that between the politics of fear and the politics of race, the people of TnT are the only expendable scapegoats. This is the sad legacy of the current state of politics in this country.

The PNM's politics of fear and the UNC's politics of race are the endemic, vicious duo to facilitate and prolong the reality, albeit agony, of political recidivism in TnT. There's got to be a better way for WE the people of TnT. Electoral mammaguy, pappyshow and congosa must be expunged from TnT politics.

In the final analysis, we the people--- the voting citizens of TnT must make sure and ensure that politicians do not use any and all means necessary just to get into public office. Intimidation in any form/shape must be eradicated from the electoral landscape of TnT.

Truth be Told: At this crucial juncture in the political history of TnT, what this country needs is not politicians who refuse to act as responsible public servants but responsible public servants who refuse to act as irresponsible politicians.

Put another way, TnT needs public officials who are dedicated, committed and sworn to serve and maximize the basic human needs of the people at the national, macro level and not private politicians who are dedicated, committed and sworn not only to maximize their personal interests but also the vested interests of their cronies, financial backers and "parasitic oligarchies" at the national micro level.

Whether it is the politics of fear or the politics of race, my fellow Trinbagonians, the bottom-line is still : "We living in jail."

And neither the nuttin PNM nor the corrupt UNC holds the key to release the citizens from this jailed position. To be more specific and precise, this writer is firmly convinced that the leaders of these parties have lost the key and are now using phony duplicates when it comes to the conceptualization, formulation and implementation of public policy and governance in TnT , especially where crime and personal security/safety matters are concerned.

The leaders of the PNM and UNC do not have the slightest clue as to how to deal with these matters. In this regard, there seems to be a symbiotic relationship between incompetence, stupidity and wait-and-see attitude.

Truth be Told: TnT has been wearing the same political khaki pants for far too long.Now is the right /opportune time for a political wardrobe change.Having used unreliable, untrustworthy, deceiving, reneging and tarnished detergent every five years, the citizenry have finally realized that the political khaki pants still stinks.

The citizens have finally realized that they have to and must use a different kind of detergent next election time around, if not sooner. Change gotta come.

Truth be Told. Since Prime Minister Manning has not only turned his back and dissed LNG workers but also reportedly instructed the USA-California-based TNE not "to pay that type of money to workers", he must be warned that these very same workers, voting citizens of TnT, will turn their finger at him during the next election (or sooner) a la cricket empire Billy Bowden.

Shem Hotep ("I go in peace").

Dr. Nantambu is Professor Emeritus at Kent State University, U.S.A. His e-mail address is kwame@tstt.net.tt).

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