There is a saying, “That as long as a snake has its venom it will always continue to attack.” The same can be said of the New National Party, and its political directorate.
The NNP has not lost any of its venom and as such is expected to continue to attack the various sectors of the Grenadian society if it is returned to office in the upcoming general elections.
Grenada has moved from the era of fear and horror to one of optimism and hope. From 1995 -2008 the venom of the NNP was spewed on media practitioners, teachers, farmers, policemen, fishermen, trade unions, politicians and any one deemed an enemy of the party. The people of Grenada have been subjected to the whims and fancies of the NNP until finally deciding to vote the party out of office in 2008. Even party members of the likes of Sis Grace Duncan, Bro. Kennedy Roberts, Devon Rachae, Raphael Fletcher, Michael Baptiste, etc. felt the wrath of the leadership of the NNP and were vilified because of their views and ambitions.
Prime Minister Thomas on the one hand has demonstrated that he believes in reconciliation and national unity. He embraced many of the very same people who have jailed him during the revolutionary era. His administration has demonstrated maturity by ensuring that the rule of law and the democratic institutions of the country are maintained and protected. The prime minister and his party are governing in abnormal times when the world is experiencing the worst economic recession since the 1930s. The government has been unable to provide the necessary jobs to the people because of the lack of resources to do so. The economic recession has caused a decline in the major foreign exchange earners such as tourism, etc. Despite the many challenges faced by the government, the NDC has been able to maintain the peace, security and stability of the country.
President Barack Obama was re-elected to a second term as president of the United States because the electorate in America comprising whites, African-American, Asian and Hispanics gave him the benefit of the doubt. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney was unable to convince the electorate that he had a clear plan and vision to move the US economy out of recession and deal with all the other major social issues affecting the United States.
The United States unemployment rate stood at just under 8 percent prior to the US elections and no US president has ever been re-elected with such a high unemployment rate in the history of the country. President Obama was able to make history after gaining the trust and confidence of the electorate. He was able to articulate a clear vision for the future despite not having a very strong record to campaign on. With a weak economy and 23 million Americans unemployed the odds were against the incumbent president.
Mitt Romney and the Republican establishment spent over 1.2 billion dollars, a figure just under the national debt of Grenada to unseat President Barack Obama yet they were unable to so even with the United States experiencing difficult economic times. What this shows is that money alone can't win an election. The leader and his party must be a viable alternative with a clear and realistic strategy to move the country forward. Governor Romney indicated that he would create 12 million new jobs, but failed to present a plan to do so.
President Obama was given the benefit of the doubt by the intelligent US electorate because they knew that he wasn't the one responsible for their economic woes and that he did all that he probably could have done under the circumstances to turn the economy around. They were fully aware that he inherited a trillion dollar deficit and two wars from the Republican President George Bush. They also knew that President Bush turned the US surplus into record deficit and as such they were prepared to give President Barack Obama a second term in office. While Obama's record was not all that grandiose, he did accomplish some of the things that he said that he would do such as, ending the Iraq war, immigration reforms, reform Wall Street and the financial sector, killed Bin Laden, and health care reform. However, even with these accomplishments his re-election prospects appeared bleak with a weak economy and 23 million Americans out of work.
The president didn't help his cause with a very weak performance in the first presidential debate but this didn't prevented him from coming out stronger, convincing the electorate that he should be re-elected for a second term. Despite the Republican Party optimism that their candidate would win a number of the key swing states, Obama was able to win by a landslide, winning the majority of the popular vote and well over 300 electoral votes. President Obama won because the people of America gave him the benefit of the doubt.
The re-election of President Barack Obama will have a positive impact on the electoral process in Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique since there are many similarities in the circumstances facing Obama, Tillman Thomas and the National Democratic Congress. Hon Tillman Thomas and the US president have an excellent working relationship since they met at the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago in April 2009. This relationship was strengthened when the two men met again in Brazil earlier in the year.
Thousands of Grenadian nationals live and work in the United States of America and so it is important that there are excellent bi-lateral relationships between our two countries. Since the election of the NDC into office, this relationship has been one of mutual respect and our people must ensure that this relationship continues by electing Prime Minister Thomas and his administration back into office. Developmental aid and grants are based on continuity in government and also on the relationships cultivated among leaders over the years. It is critical that the electorate consider all these factors in making the choice as to who they want to lead them for the next five years.
Prime Minister Thomas and President Obama share many things in common including strong family ties, humility, love of people, their belief in accountability, transparency, good governance, the rule of law, the independence of the media and other democratic institutions and service to country and people. Both men believe that human beings are created equal and that they should be given the opportunity to meet their full potential irrespective of their political affiliations and background. It is not a co-incidence that President Obama and Prime Minister Thomas are both leading their respective countries at the same period in the history of the world.
As Prime Minister Thomas and his party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) seek another five year term in office, the electorate of Grenada Carriacou and Petite Martinique can learn many lessons from the people of America.
First and foremost, Prime Minister Thomas, like President Obama, who inherited a poor economy from George Bush, inherited a very weak economy from Dr Mitchell and the NNP. Dr Mitchell, like George Bush, came to power at a time when the previous NDC administration of Nicholas Braithwaite, through a homegrown austerity program, stabilized the Grenadian economy, making the country creditworthy. President George Bush inherited from President Bill Clinton an economy with a major surplus. Eight years after the US economy was in a trillion dollar deficit, while here in Grenada 13 years later our national debt skyrocketed to over $1.8 billion under Dr Mitchell.
Given the circumstances facing Prime Minster Thomas and the NDC, having to pay 20% of every dollar earned by government to service the national debt at a time when the world is in a very serious economic recession, the administration must be commended for keeping Grenada from the clutches of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The Minister of Finance, the Hon Nazim Burke, has been transparent with the Grenadian people as it relates to the true state of the economy. Time and time again he has indicated that it is very challenging for the government; however the NDC is committed to meeting its obligations to all stakeholders. The opposition has been trying their best to create instability in the country by spreading fear among the populace. This tactic however has failed. The majority of our people are aware that this isn't normal times and that the NDC administration is doing its best to keep the economy afloat. The people are aware that our economic woes didn't just fall from the sky or happen overnight but are as a result of the poor fiscal management of the economy by the NNP administration of Dr Mitchell.
The leader of the opposition and his party, like Mitt Romney and the Republican Party, would want the people of Grenada to forget the period 1995 -2008 and blame the current economic challenges facing the country squarely at the feet of the Prime Minster Thomas and the NDC. They want the people to forget that they are the architects of the damage Grenadian economy.
NDC deserves to be given the benefit of the doubt because the administration has presented the people with a clear vision and plan to move the economy forward. The five transformational pillars of the economy is a solid vision that when implemented fully will take the economy of the country to a different level. The opposition forces, including the newly formed National United Front, need to stop criticizing for criticizing sake and come clean with the Grenadian people by articulating their vision for the development of the country.
The problem that the NNP has is that the party lacks new ideas and the capacity, since they haven't reformed themselves to meet the demand of the people. It’s the same old captain leading the same old ship with the same old tired group of sailors. The NDC on the other hand has been able to attract new vibrant, dedicated and capable people in Franca Bernadine, Dennoth Modeste, Dr George Vincent, Randell Robinson, Merle Byer, Terry Hillaire and Harrison Fleary. These are people who believe in the core values of the NDC and are committed to serving the people.
NDC has laid the foundation so that the economy can kick off when the economic recession ends. The recent sign deal between the Sandals Group and the NDC administration is testimony of the trust that the Caribbean icon Butch Stewart has in the prime minister and his government. Prime Minster Thomas has had to fight against an obstructionist opposition NNP, and internal opposition and a world recession and so far he has prevailed. Listening to the pronouncements of members of NUF gives the people much more reasons why they should give the prime minister the benefit of the doubt and vote to re-elect the NDC. It has now become quite clear that there was a deliberate ploy by some members of the administration to frustrate the process so that the administration will fail in an effort to advance their misguided agenda. Even after criticizing their own prime minister and government, these same forces still have the audacity to go to the courts to get redress to a situation that they have created and exacerbated.
The fact of the matter is that the opposition forces have not conducted or presented themselves as a viable alternative to the National Democratic Congress government. We shouldn't just change a government for the sake of changing a government. Change should be positive, productive and meaningful. The country certainly has NUF of the NNP political rhetoric and bickering. NUF and NNP should present their plan to the people now. Nice sounding promises such as providing each student with a laptop are only designed to fool the electorate. What the electorate wants to hear is where the monies are coming from to purchase the computers for the thousands of students. Can the people trust NUF and the NNP? I really don't think so. How can a party be against providing free schoolbooks for the students of this nation on one hand and promising to provide a free laptop on the other hand? This just doesn't make sense to any reasonable person.
Political leaders and their organisation must stand for something. The NDC stands for accountability, transparency, good governance, the rule of law independence of the judiciary, media, the police force and providing the people with a better standard of living. The NDC isn't about making rosy promises to the electorate in an effort to gain votes. The party and its leader has provided a clear vision and plan to take Grenada forward for the next five years and should be given the opportunity to do so,
The new look NDC is a much better team than the old NNP. Following the defeat of the NNP in the last general elections, the party has failed to reform itself, its ideas and philosophy into the modern type of political organisation that is needed to propel Grenada in the future. The NNP has failed to assure the Grenadian electorate that it is a changed organisation. An organisation that is willing and ready to tolerate opposition and work with any elected government of the day for the benefit of the country. Following its 15-seat victory in 1999, the NNP has seen its mandate decline progressively to just winning four seats in 2008. The electorate has shown that they do not support the policies of the New National Party. The NDC has proven that even with its internal struggles, an obstructionist opposition, it has been able to attract new credible candidates and at the same time achieve its primary objectives in government.
Government continues to make every effort to be all inclusive despite sections of the country trying to hamstring its operation for political reasons. The business community understands fully well the limitations of the government at this time and those that are patriotic have sacrificed their profits just to keep workers employed. These businessmen are doing so because they know that the Tillman Thomas government is one that they can trust to do the right things for Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
Our farmers, policemen, teachers, bus drivers, nurses, trade unionists also know that the NDC government is one that they can trust. Despite the differences that some of them may have with the NDC they do know that they will have better opportunities and gain much more respect with Tillman Thomas as prime minister. Life is not all about wealth, riches and material gain. Human beings also need to be respected and free from fear .We should never return to the days when our nation and people were humiliated by politicians who thought that they had a monopoly on political power in the country. Politicians need to be reminded that the people won't settle for mediocrity, disrespect and humiliation. The people are the ones who give the politicians their power and so the people should always be respected irrespective of what circumstances they find themselves in. President Barack Obama, the most powerful politician on earth, always shows great respect for the American people. Prime Minister Thomas, even while under enormous political pressure, has never disrespected his political foes or ever contemplated disrespecting the Grenadian people. As prime minister he has been exemplary and has demanded the same from his cabinet. Things are not the best now but with the foundation that has been laid it certainly will get better.
The Grenadian electorate needs to give Prime Minister Hon Tillman Thomas and the NDC the benefit of the doubt and re-elect the NDC for a second five year term. It is there and then the people of Grenada can sincerely judge the legacy of Prime Minister Tillman Thomas because he would have had ten years to prove his worth to the Grenadian people. Two years more than President Barack Obama but three years less than Dr Mitchell.
The people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique should never forget the saying that, as long as a snake has venom, it will always continue to attack. Let us all collectively remove the venom and replace it with a HEART.