By a Contributor to the Patriot
The United Workers Party (UWP) was formed with and has always comprised of competent, capable, qualified and skillful individuals that the country requires in its governance if it were to experience sustained growth, progress and development. Unfortunately, for over 20 years, the party has failed to move from where it has been during the period 1995-2000 to where it should be at the helm of governance in 2020.
Without seeking to answer why this is the case, the arguments advanced by various stakeholders are worthy of attention. Some have suggested that the UWP has not been sufficiently disciplined in developing and executing the right combination of strategies to winning in an extremely competitive but corrupted electoral system. Consequently, the party must contemplate change from within as it reassesses the role of each of its talented and capable team members if success were to be achieved in the near future against an opponent that has embraced the Machiavellian approach to winning at all cost.
Substantively, the majority of Dominicans at home and abroad agree with the qualitative message, development plans and values of the United Workers Party. However, in the past elections of 2009, 2014 and 2019, the UWP has been accused of keeping the political gloves on, making unforced errors and not effectively closing in on the kill, while the DLP comes into the political ring well resourced, equipped, trained, motivated and experienced with bare-political knuckles.
The DLP does what it takes to win. It exploits partisanship at the expense of the good name and welfare of the state. It unashamedly abuses its incumbency advantage, exploits and capitalizes on the ignorance, tribalism and baser instincts of its supporters, and manipulates a fragile system of justice for political gains.
The bullying approach of DLP officials, advocates and mouthpieces is unfriendly truth, politeness, righteousness and justice. These actors of the DLP play of governance comedy simply want to win at all cost. In that political environment, the issues-based, cordial approach of the UWP may require some adjustments. It is time to up the ante, drop the gloves, hit back harder, faster and start fighting fire with fire within the limits of available resources in order to have a chance of winning the next general elections.
Political observers have noted that the majority of young people do not approve the conduct of the incumbent DLP but they are equally dissatisfied with the manner in which the Opposition has been responding. Some have equated the approach of the Opposition as “political insanity” i.e. doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result. They have cautioned that if we earnestly desire a different result, we cannot continue doing the same things without employing different approaches, possibly with different personnel at the helm. They have cautioned the Opposition against gaining comfort in the routine of habits and have pointed out that the mindset and political strategies that were employed as part of UWP’s campaign during1988-1995 require an upgrade. If the Opposition desires to achieve something different, it must start doing things differently today to bring about political success and a better Dominica tomorrow, where everyone can enjoy living, working and enjoying life. There’s no other way to get there.
The current political climate does not necessarily require the Opposition to be right on every issue. The Opposition simply needs to lunch timely, effective and decisive counterpunches and speak to voters’ hearts, both in a language and manner that get their attention, utilizing the tactics of Labour, where appropriate, as long as it attracts a favorable response from the people who vote. Consequently, the actors entrusted to deliver the message of the Opposition must possess the skills of softening hard messages when required, expressing empathy and nurturing the art of touching hearts and minds in words and deeds.
A trained political observer recently opined that the arena in which opposition politics is played-out is the same in which the DLP has played and mastered the art of winning. However, there are dramatic differences between both electioneering productions. The audience seems to have warmed up to the incumbent political production. Whereas the Opposition has been staging of production of government tragedy with lies, inefficiencies, non-transparency and lack of accountability laced with layers of corruption, the DLP’s production of socio-economic and constitutional horrors is viewed by the masses as a stress relieving comedy. Judging from the results of the last three general elections, the theatrical productions of the DLP appear to be much more engaging, interactive and rewarding simply because a tragedy by design is a much more difficult sell than a comedy, especially when the audience is more concerned with instant gratification rather than focusing on sustained long-term fixes.
Therefore, the Opposition needs to organize itself better and assign the right players to play their respective roles at the right time and in the right places. It must decide who does what, when a player acts or speaks and ensure that all roles are carefully executed in the same way as the incumbent casts of players perform their respective roles dutifully to the cause in an out of parliament. This will require proper strategic planning to ensure clear messaging and will avoid the series of ill-advised, haphazard and reoccurring errors, which could bring to an end the drought of political victory and ultimately sustainable growth and development for the country.
The unplanned randomness of attacks on the incumbent machinery has to be more carefully planned. Never mind the frivolous statements of supporters on the ground, on radio and on social media, whenever statements are made by party officials, they must be well targeted with a strategic objective and every claim made must be supported with documentary evidence. In this high stake political theater, party officials wishing to make unsubstantiated claims may wish to consider routing such information to the appropriate players in the right medium for dissemination in order to achieve optimal socio-political impact.
At this juncture of our socio-political development, perhaps a single political party may not hold the magic. Consequently, any attempt to resuscitate or jump-start the interest of the public in an effective Opposition machinery, may require wide collaborative efforts, which must emanate from a more deliberate and strategic place. Opposition supporters must allow for processing alternative ideas without the unnecessarily loud, angry, repetitious criticisms of the status quo but recognizing that it is opportune to entertain new thinking and collectively bring some sanity into opposition politicking to end the reign of the incumbent and to usher in a period of prosperity in Dominica.
Dominica demands better from those who hold and seek to hold political office. That much is generally accepted whichever political party that one supports. However, in seeking to bring about the required change, there ought to be more coordinated efforts among like-minded individuals to defeat the present power structure that has applied a suffocating, political chokehold on Dominica and preventing her from breathing comfortably.
There is an old saying that politics is theatre for ugly people and successful politicians are all actors to a certain degree in democracies. Though not quite as cynical as stated, it seems almost a tautology that a politician must show support for a cause, even when he/she does not actually have 100% buy-in. The nature of politics demands that this must be done with conviction and with a smiling face. One may be critical of Skerrit but as a political actor, he has mastered the art of massaging the truth and making his actions come across as one who cares. Hence, he claims to be distributing state-owned houses free to the citizens and then influences a spineless cabinet to approve a $32,000.00 monthly rental for a mansion, which requires the state to pay over $34,000.00 a month to maintain a lifestyle fit for a king. Skerrit understands that once he stops acting – or worse, stop acting in a believable manner, the comedy production of Labour shall become an instant irreversible tragedy.