Monday, November 22, 2010

The end of innocence

(This was first published online on Friday November 19, 2010).

TODAY is Friday -- and in Grenada there will be some sideshows.

And long after today, there will be a raging debate – that’s for certain – on what today would have brought.

But what it is really – is a sideshow.

I am so sorry that most of us have already missed the real show.

There was a 48 hour window this past week when our democracy was effectively hijacked – and nobody said a word.

The furor about the reshuffle is in itself only significant in the context that it reflects a wider problem of the Tillman Thomas administration.

Thomas is right; reshuffles are par for the course. But there is confusion over this one for a reason. The rumblings are not a protest against a system that has failed us; instead it is a protest against us who have failed the system.

Michael Church has got something to answer to. But today, we should be more fascinated about who will answer for stealing innocence.

The constituency leaders who met last night and rebuked the Prime Minister about his handling of this situation, was not challenging his right to reshuffle his cabinet.

They were protesting the collapse of collective governance.

For all practical purposes, the leaders abandoned their own party about a year ago. (Refer to my February article of NDC’s Problem With Itself).

With the party abandoned, the only linkage to what people voted for in July 2008, was through their MPs – as absent and non performing as some of them are.

Then at some point in the last year, the cabinet system was being treated with contempt.

Collective decisions taken, were being subsequently unilaterally abandoned. (Which makes Michael Church’s alleged sins look as child’s play).

The second cabinet – of exclusively non elected members and all of whom are not even members of the party – took over, with the supposed knowledge and acceptance of the Prime Minister.

Jimmy Bristol spoke of the destabilizing effect of the “second cabinet” – but we missed the warning because as usual we got caught up in the sideshow.

Then, the sideshow was Bristol, his son and so on.

And now, to today….

I predict once again the debate will be on the sideshow – our comments colored by who our favorites are in a government that’s going around in circles, rather than going forward.

Only if we can talk about the problem, instead of the symptoms – things will be so different.

This brings me back to a 48 hour window this past week when democracy was hijacked.

For two days the Prime Minister was not talking to the majority of his cabinet. On the other hand the Party Chairman was canceling a General Council meeting – which he had no authority to do. And (remember) the General Council of the Party is the only real official mechanism for the government to report to the party that brought it to power.

There was a time this past week, when the end begun. That was the hour when the mechanisms for the leadership to talk to both cabinet and party were suspended all at once.

The General Council was canceled because a select few took the view that they cannot risk going before the party to report to the body that brought this government into power.

So, when a government officially runs from its people – you know it is indeed – the end of innocence.

And now, back to today… again!

Michael Church may lose his job; or the cabinet may lose its Michael Church. And while both will claim victory in their own arrogant collective self righteousness, covered in legal rather than moral authority, we would have lost innocence.

No wonder DON HENLEY’s song has been in my head all night long.

O' beautiful, for spacious skies

But now those skies are threatening

They're beating plowshares into swords

For this tired old man that we elected king

Armchair warriors often fail

And we've been poisoned by these fairy tales

The lawyers clean up all details

Since daddy had to lie

But I know a place where we can go

And wash away this sin

We'll sit and watch the clouds roll by

And the tall grass waves in the wind

Just lay your head back on the ground

And let your hair spill all around me

Offer up your best defense

But this is the end

This is the end of the innocence

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