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OPINION: A poll that Guyana could have done without

by GHK Lall

I am perplexed about that poll making the media rounds. Was it really needed? What purpose served? What difference does it make? Still, it is there and a few words (few only) are spared in recognition of its existence.

First, was it really needed? Speaking for myself only, it restated the boring, and confirmed far and wide, what just about every Guyanese knew, believed, and harbored in his or her bosom. Because so much has been said about the demerits of the candidate that scorched earth will not be revisited. Pointless. Settled territory, since there is little genuine dispute about the lack of either persuasive power, or good feeling, or standing, about the candidate. A few letter captions were noticed in passing, which trumpeted that this candidate could be the best thing for Guyana, since the proven discovery of oil. There is widespread doubt, if not laughter, over the source and objectives of what amounts to the surreal. Sounds like spitting into the teeth of a hurricane to me.

Regardless, this much is appreciated. Opposition voters from every nook and cranny had, and still have, serious trouble considering the viability of the one championed as God’s gift to Guyana. Even those who worship the same God have serious reservations about limitations through numerous objections. Of course, since this was a palpably distinguishing democratic exercise, then it stands: the party representatives of the faithful people have spoken. Yes, they have; only that a careful listening comes up with gurgles, static, and what sounds suspiciously like curses. No man should be subjected to this kind of exposure and insult and the objectionable from the hands of his own people. And, by the same token, no man should have allowed himself to be put in that position where he would be open to the worst possible ridicule and humiliations.

Therefore, in a nutshell: this country should have been spared this poll. It has enough on its plate already: the sitting Chief Justice (acting no less) was moved to the pain of disclosure on the repetitive, complex legal framework surrounding the local electoral system. I applaud her honesty, since the thing was intended to be Machiavellian, and for that very reason has found favor with lawyers and politicians. As Exhibit Number 1, I tender her lengthy acting stewardship. Also, there is turmoil over a date and the brokerage of the torture-chamber-aging of Gecom’s chair. Indeed, it the forced apprenticeship of the job, as well as the character hazards of being suspected as to motives, truth, and justice. These are only two of the things that intrigue the nation currently; not the old news and infuriating reminder of the candidate and his good self. It is a poll best left undone.

Now, for the second question: what purpose served? I think it is twofold (maybe more). For starters, it is a stark message to the leadership and opposition brain trust that the selection and direction taken is a losing hand with a loser’s odds; that there is still time (is there, really?) to change horses in midstream and race ahead with the a more pedigreed presidential offering to the faithful. The two substitute twelfth men are known, would be welcomed, and followed all the way to the voting booth, if only to unseat the incumbents. In other words, the dissatisfactions voiced over the present man arranged by the headman could be overcome and the victory celebrations begin.

Now I have a problem. Since when does who is the candidate matter? Or the issues? Or character? Or history? As I said long ago when this candidate was first unveiled before a stunned opposition congregation, a cup could be tied to the tail of a dinosaur (think crocodile or cockroach; I kept things impersonal and scientific) and their voters would put blindfold on, drag themselves over nails, and deliver heart and soul (their votes) for the favorite son. Favorite as forwarded and forced upon the helpless. They would respond accordingly. Forget all this nonsense about the fence sitters and the undecided. Who are they and where are they? When did they ever exist, and especially now with all the bitterness stoked?

As a quick aside, that is why, it should be observed, I have not questioned nor commented about the poll itself: its methodology, its supporting facts and figures, and the rest. Immaterial and irrelevant to me. But back to the same second question.

I found interesting that not-so-subtle urging for the government, struggling with its own dissensions from conscientious supporters (who think it fooled and failed), to take the plunge and get ahead of the competition through an earlier rather than a later election. Like I said: very interesting. That means, if the government heeds such a recommendation, it would be sacrificing some voter eligibility that favors its cause. Intriguing, it is. Even more so, when that clashes with my own views that the opposition ranks, never less than fully committed (quarrels and distaste and all) to delivering their precious franchise would sense a rare opening, compliments of government, to seize the upper hand. That is, the believed superior numerical hand presented by early elections, and as embedded in the list.

I must say the Machiavelli present in me like this development. Slick and sophisticated, I sense. Then again, not so.

Last, for the third question: what difference does it (this poll) make? I submit: none. Some government people are disappointed and disillusioned, but they are going nowhere but to the polls. That’s a given and done deal. Opposition people all over are outraged and the rest about the candidate, but they are more outraged at the government. They are going out in their numbers on the big day for the big result and the big return.

Across the Guyanese electoral spectrum, that is the dream and drive. I think the media could have been more selective and let sleeping dogs lie. This is one poll too many, too obvious, too unnecessary. Democracy can be a dog.

Mr. GHK Lall is a Guyanese author, columnist and former financial analyst on Wall Street.