Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A View From Toronto

Commentary: The US Republican impasse - A lesson for St Vincent and the Grenadines
Published on January 12, 2011

By Rebecca Theodore

It's a new year and a new political battle is slowly unfolding in Washington. Yes! Republicans in a shadowy war are again thorns in the flesh of ‘Obamacare.’ The old battlefields of tax cuts, gays in the military and even immigration are now tossed against the enemy’s shield. The Republicans are faceless antagonists. They are doing what they were taught. The bugles sound, the enemy advances nigh -- strike, repeal and then again. The 112th Congress of the US is in session. The Republicans are marching in.

It is clear that Republicans are not somnolent, for they haven’t changed their purpose. Their very first order of business as majority in the House of Representatives is a symbolic vote in favor of repealing healthcare reform. Republicans campaigned against health reform and won, but it seems that victory is still not within their grasp because, if their main focus remains ‘Obamacare’, then they are doomed to make the same tactical mistake like Democrats in the last election -- namely, putting the issue of health care over jobs and the economy. Adjusting their slogan from ‘repeal’ to ‘repeal and replace’ formulates an even more daunting task because, even with new power in the house, Democrats still control the Senate and this means that Republicans still lack enough votes to overcome a filibuster or override a presidential veto.

In an age of reality TV drama and Hollywood blockbusters loaded with special effects, it seems easy for the Republicans’ theatrical acts to penetrate through the minds of the masses. However, turning Democrat progress and the progress of most Americans into a partisan fight and ideological demagogue detracts the glimpse of color in the iron helm on the political battlefield. It is a known fact that Republicans’ only interest lies in appeasement of their right wing base and looking out for special interests rather than job creation and economic growth.

Opponents argue that there is no chance that a bill repealing the landmark health care overhaul
could make it through Congress and be signed into law. Surely, politics is far from dead in the
The same stands true in the Caribbean, where prevailing mitigating factors are substantial. The heated and intense controversies of most Caribbean opposition leaders when they have lost an election portrays them as a costly extension of government control over people's lives when in essence this is not the truth at all.

In St Vincent and the Grenadines, opposition leader Arnhim Eustace forgets the fact that, while criticism is often absorbed and taken seriously in a democracy, on the other hand, when there is extreme unreasonable criticism, then there is an override of the self-remedial apparatus of democracy and unleashes a dangerous and disturbing response.

While the role of a strong opposition is constructive criticism of government policies, extreme criticism of an elected government not only shows the poor leadership skills of any opposition party but also detract from the vitality of formulating an electoral system in which the people are enabled to directly elect those who they believe can represent them. The New Democratic Party in St Vincent and the Grenadines came very close to forming the government and in its moribund illusion it will not be very long before they form that government. In the meantime, the NDP in the Parliament of St Vincent and the Grenadines, like the Republicans in the House of Representatives will keep the fire burning at the feet of the ULP and at the Obama administration but at the end of the day it is still Dr Ralph Gonsalves Unity Labor Party and President Obama that sets the spark to that fire.
In this lies the hope for all those seeking to erase, repeal and implant laws to suit their own political agendas.

It cannot be denied that there must be an energetic opposition so that the elected party does not abuse the power invested in them by the people but considering filing election petitions, and private criminal complaints against citizens suspected of violating the electoral laws of St Vincent and the Grenadines or the NDP utilizing its position in the new Parliament to compel an elected government to call fresh elections within a one year period should force the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines to also reconsider what is it they seek in electing leaders to represent them and to pay special attention to leaders who exploit the system for their own selfish ends.

Since there is no stronger barrier to corruption than people power, the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines, like the American populace, need to stand by their elected leaders to keep the country moving forward and work hard to defend what has already been achieved. President Obama of the US and Dr Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines were democratically elected to finish the work that they began. Resorting to opposition slander, partisan or ideological agenda and retreating while still waving red flags no doubt echo dins of clashing steel, cries of agony, and shouts of hate.

If a thought is to penetrate the fog on that battlefield of hate, then Republicans and Mr Eustace alike must lay down their swords, leave their enemy with the winning knowledge that they have won and let the battle finally be done.

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Rebecca Theodore was born on the north coast of the Caribbean island of Dominica public imagination. and resides in Toronto, Canada. A national security and political columnist, she holds a BA and MA in Philosophy. She can be
reached at