The Trinidad Guardian / What options does T&T have to engender and develop the political culture and leadership required to reinvent the institutions, systems, and quality leadership needed to transform the society?

Last week’s column sketched the broad outcomes of the two major parties in government over the last almost 30 years. However, I feel the need to illustrate further the reasoning behind my view, that there has to be meaningful change to the political culture and the parties to prevent the society from going over the edge.

In addition to the major inability to begin the required transformation of the economy, the growth and inculcation of criminality, and the boldness with which the expressions of crime are carried out have led to a major deterioration in the quality of life for citizens. Governments have spent more than a few billions without success.

Corruption in the core of the society has become a way of life; little is outside the range of bribery, nepotism, and in many instances, the maladies have become embedded in institutional organisation and administration.

Over the reign of the two major parties and governments, tribalism and fanaticism in the bases of the parties have reached new levels, unthinking support notwithstanding.

The conduct of parliamentary business has been liberally coated with initiatives and postures, often disruptive and hardly constructive to the national good.

Parties and their leaders in government and opposition have brought the Parliament into disrepute with baseless allegations made one against the other; it would not be an overstatement to say that on occasion “jamette” society reigns.

Several bills have often been stalemated with leaders and their parties hanging on to narrow political interests, forcing the interests of T&T into subservience. In many instances, parties in government promote and pass legislation, only to oppose it when in opposition with a fig leaf of an excuse as to a rationale for a change of mind.

A couple of Speakers have presided over the House with crass side-taking on behalf of their parties; the Parliament has been devalued as an institution in which lawmaking is in the national interest.

Significantly, the parties have contributed to tribalism by their governance methods skewed in favour of their tribe.

The electoral statistics, the composition and mobilization ethic of the parties make clear the tribal associations and intent of the politics. Given such a political culture that gives direction to organisation and administration, it is obvious that there can be little forward movement.

The failure of the parties to even place meaningful constitutional reform on the national agenda, their encouragement and facilitation of elements of the business community to buy influence in government decision-making, through investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the campaigns of the parties, has not merely distorted economic decision-making, but has immersed the economy and society in institutional corruption.

Those at the other end of the economy and society must feel justified in seeking their piece of the action too.

The parties/governments would point to infrastructure projects completed, jobs created, and social welfare distributed; but if collectively they have not done some good with over one trillion plus dollars collected in revenue, then they all deserve to be jailed.

It’s against such a background of non-achievement of societal needs and with “nuff” resources to initiate that fundamental change that this columnist is certain that the political culture has to be deeply influenced by a new and participative citizen of T&T.

Leaving change to chance and/or hoping that somehow the oligarchies of the parties will give up the power they hold over sections of the electorate and society is wishing on a star; the passage of time and the succession of failed administrations have proven that.

Yes, sweep the PNM and UNC as constituted out of the way; however, the support bases of these parties have choices.

To be continued

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