I have always argued that the business of the PPPC is not just PPPC’s business. The business of PNCR is not just PNCR’s business. The choices and actions of these parties, whether backward or progressive, have major implications for every single Guyanese, even those in the diaspora. We should therefore not allow them to do as they please with their internal election process of deciding their respective candidates. Party shills will tell us it’s none of our business but we have got to be ready to challenge this.
There are two reasons why we have to be very vocal as these parties “elect” their candidate(s). First, there is the list system as stipulated by the constitution. Guyanese do not vote for a leader of a constituency but for a list of candidates and Presidential Candidate. The political parties, behind closed doors, decide who gets on the list from which the Members of Parliament are chosen. Second, following from the first point, the leader or small subgroup who captures the party, essentially captures the national Treasury and the coming oil revenues, as well as decides the patronage flow in terms of high-paying civil service jobs and contracts. This leader or group reinforces his/its will by selecting malleable MPs who can be recalled by virtue of the flawed Constitution which President Granger and Mr Jagdeo equally love.
At this moment, the PPPC has to decide who will be its presidential candidate for the 2020 election. In my opinion, this person should have been decided already after the previous Congress but circumstances would dictate that we all had to wait until the Caribbean Court of Justice entomb the third term which was, by the way, already part of a greater peace treaty – the Herdmanston Accord – between the PNCR and the PPPC. As I commented on my Facebook page, we must never mess with these peace arrangements, no matter how imperfect they are or how ambitious one might be.
I would like to share some of my thinking with youths and those of Generation X like myself (I am sure some elders will agree):
I attended the PPPC’s ideological camp, Accabre, back in 1993 when I was a first year University of Guyana student. I forgot most things, except for three lasting impressions and some of the lecturers. The lecturers included Dr Cheddi Jagan who had just became President, Dr Henry Jeffrey, Mr Feroz Mohamed, Pandit Repu Daman Persaud and others.
The first impression was -- not everyone liked the pro-Western comments from a naive first-year undergraduate kid like myself.
Second, there was a hole on Dr Jagan's shirt jack; under his armpit. In my opinion, it signaled the modesty of the man.
Third, the most important and lasting impression was what Dr Jagan said about education. He said you can go to law school or get medical training but make sure that you take some classes in the Social Sciences such as economics, psychology, sociology, anthropology and political science. He said he did exactly that when he was a medical student in the United States (incidentally Lee Kuan Yew did the same when he studied law). This was why Dr Jagan had a broad perspective on many issues, his ideological rigidity notwithstanding.
So, why am I bringing this up? I believe the task of leadership is not to play you know everything and surround yourself with like-minded people, but to have a general enough mathematics/engineering/social sciences background to ask the right questions. I think this is the core weakness of all Guyanese presidents, past and present.
So, as PPP grass root supporters decide on their next presidential candidate (assuming they get a say), they must determine whether the person going into 2020 is capable of asking the right questions about the binding challenges facing Guyana. Independent voters must also ponder the same questions.
Young people looking at leadership in 2020 will get negative vibes from old timers. They will claim that young people are not ready; they must wait their turn, as President Granger once said. However, what is most important is the broad perspective, not the age. Enlightenment is highly correlated with a broad education and perspective. Take for example the founding fathers of the United States. They were teenagers and men in their 20s and 30s. George Washington was one of the oldest at 45. One estimate puts the average age of the revolutionary leaders at 31.
The defining feature of these young revolutionaries was that many of them had a broad education that we could call today a liberal arts education. Thomas Jefferson was 33 and Alexander Hamilton was 21 when America got its independence in 1776. Although not recognized by mainstream economists, Hamilton would eventually write down the first economic development plan in 1790 when he was 36. The Germans would send an actual economist to study Hamilton’s development plan. These ideas, including his insistence that America needs a central bank, would be implemented at different stages after he died. Most were implemented after the civil war was over in 1865. It was not until 1913 America would have its first permanent central bank. Hamilton essentially had a liberal arts education at an average college of the time. He had an understanding of finance since he was a bookkeeper back in the Caribbean where he was born. This college would become the famous Columbia University in New York City.
My central point is this:
Does the PPPC possess (APNU+AFC as well) a presidential candidate with a broad enough perspective, who can ask the right questions? If not, you will get more of the same bad policies, as was the case since 1966.
Heal Guyana is a registered, not-for-profit organisation which functions as a civil society platform that focuses on empowering Guyanese and influencing citizens toward positive behavior change.
The views expressed herein are those of the Author; they do not necessarily reflect the views of Heal Guyana or its Executives.