“The People’s Choice”

Commentary  by Charles Williams.

There is a cynical statement, often applied in the field of politics, which says that people get the government they deserve. That point of view is one way of looking at the matter. On the other hand, it is equally possible to point out that one of the aims of the democratic process is to ensure that the people get the government they want. If that were not the case, then there would really be no valid purpose to democracy, and the entire process would be nothing more than a pointless exercise, the result of which would be anarchy and confusion.

One of the less attractive features of democracy is that too often, people who wind up on the losing end of the process refuse to accept the verdict of the majority. Even though they play by the same rules as everybody else, and base their appeals, strategies and tactics on the same motivations, for selfish reasons some who take part in the exercise cannot accept defeat in the spirit that the process requires.

Somehow, in their view, someone has cheated them of a victory that is rightfully theirs – and they seem unable to understand that the system to which they subscribe has worked its will according to the choices made by individual people acting according to what they perceive as their best interests.

This anti-democratic attitude is reflective of a phenomenon often observed – but not limited to – the sports field. Avid fans (the word is an abbreviation of “fanatic”) of one sports team or another often go overboard in their inability to accept defeat. We most often connect this fanatical refusal to deal with reality to the game of football. A chagrined supporter, usually one who has wagered some sorely needed funds on the outcome of some match, may exact fatal retribution from a particular team member who in his view has robbed him of his just reward.

Your typical party supporter is not at all prone to blame anyone on his or her own side for the team’s defeat. In the game of politics it is always “the other side” that breaks the rules, or fails to play fair, or suborns the referee, or performs some act of political chicanery that snatches victory from the jaws of defeat. On-the-ground political realities have nothing to do with it. Superior planning, research and campaign techniques are irrelevant. More astute, attractive or trustworthy candidates have brought nothing to the table. Charismatic leadership capable of exciting the loyalty of grassroots voters means nothing.

The Federation of St Kitts & Nevis has its own peculiar political history. The bitterness of past defeats continues to reverberate in the hearts and minds of those who originally set out to stifle the normal aspirations of the masses and who now – because people remember – have never been able to become “the people’s choice”. In recent times, the people have repeatedly made their choice known. The lessons learned from past bitter experiences and disappointments color the actions of voters as they go to the polls. For a long list of very powerful reasons, the people of the Federation have repeatedly placed their faith in the St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party and in the leadership of Prime Minister the Right Honorable Dr Denzil Douglas.

Recent events have only served to intensify that confidence. In fact, the cynical manipulations practiced by the Unity Construct have made the people increasingly wary of deceit. History will tell … and the people will once again make the right choice.

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