By GHK Lall
The opposition presidential candidate is nowhere around at this crucial moment, in this surging frantic race to an election date and day. He has become a nowhere man in a no man’s land. It is as if a captain abandoned ship during the roughest seas, or is sidelined by, believe it or not, a claim of seasickness. In this particular instance, it might even be a case of do not be seen, and whatever else is done, do not be heard saying anything about anything. What are the messages that resound from this bizarre situation? How should reasonable citizens interpret what is becoming increasingly, painfully obvious?
First, the leading player is not just in the forefront of every issue, every development, and every occasion; he has arrogated to himself a pure monopoly presence and power. He is presence and party; he might already be president, truth be told, at least, in his own head. This is today and a harbinger of what is to come. This exclusive control over, and micromanaging of, all matters confirms that there is neither confidence nor comfort nor trust in what the candidate brings to the fore. I think this was known all along. How could it not be? Citizens are reminded that this is not for president of a dog pound, but for a country. It is a country with an endless litany of intractable problems. The essence of the leadership conveyed by the de facto first bugler is that, given recent history and the accumulated acrimonies, those countless national controversies and problems will prove to be insurmountable in the wretched future looming.
Second, the candidate’s acquiescence and palpable reverence – as previously publicly committed to – consigns him to the role of a bit player in a political soap opera saturated with both tragedy and parody. Here is a candidate ready, willing, and determined to be a fifth fiddle (not second) and submit to being the butt of all manner of disparaging commentary, as well as knowing contemptuous shakes of the head both within his own fold and then beyond. What does that say of any candidate for such a vital office? Anywhere? From day one, if not before, many appalled citizens (at the idea only, and not the still incredible reality that is now) had forewarned of the circumstances that are now constantly revealed in graphic detail. The worst fears find solid, irrefutable footing. It is not even the semblance of a tag team, but a classic example of boss and boy, the latter long cloaked in the raiment of a little lost innocent lacking in vision, direction, and gumption. This is bad, really bad. I do not mean for the candidate alone, but for the image and possibilities of this society.
Third, if the party, as managed and directed by its esteemed leadership, does not allow the man of whom so much was extolled, to open his mouth, then what does that say, if not the unsayable? It is instructive that even the prime mover, determined champion, and seasoned rabbi will not take any chances through allowing him to stand on his own two feet and project some inkling of strength, knowledge, and presidential aura. He does not speak on anything; even from prepared words, even on less testing challenges and controversies, such as street people, noise nuisance, or cruelty to animals. It as if this potential first citizen possesses no mind of his own, no tongue to speak of, and no footing on which to stand, however precariously. Come to think of it, what is occurring before the eyes of an astonished citizenry is cruelty to a human being; nobody should be subjected to this degree of disdain, this level of leadership abuse and victimization. This is more than taking one for the team, or paying dues, or suffering in sacrificial silence for the rewarding intoxicants of power. It is about the abject humiliation that was always so much part of that nomination territory. It must be borne in mind, that all of this is unfolding on a daily basis before the cameras and in print. In other words, full public view.
Fourth, this does not say much, if anything, about the teacher and groomer; it says way less of the student, an acolyte of the most amateurish pedigree made to pay penance before one and all. That must be some bed of nails. Nobody deserves to be dragged through the mud like this on the grand stage. I cannot recall in the annals of history and my own no insignificant readings coming across such a combination of eroded characters and ominous circumstances. In an effort to be kind to the candidate, the best that can be offered is that it is on the job training. The problem is that the learning curve in this particular situation is projected to be of a lifetime’s duration, with little promised as result. Of course, this satisfies the criteria dreamed up from the inception.
Finally, all things considered, I feel sorry for the candidate; this pantomime has to be regretted. Worse yet, words do not begin to capture the sorrow felt for this society; its struggling, hopeful peoples deserve better. That party deserves better, and so, too, this nation. This is so regardless of who wins, loses, or comes out otherwise. In this benighted land, there are no draws. Only the harmful, and the pitiful, too, in a Greek tragedy.