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Propaganda wars and the hunt for votes

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Predictably, the politicians and their parties have begun the game of distraction as they hunt for fingers to be dipped into the ink to have them reinstated and or returned to office. As in the past, they are using the classic approach of finding, inventing, belabouring acts of corruption, real or imagined and shoveling dirt on each other with all of the energy and conspiratorial sagacity at their disposal.  

So “once upon a time”, again, Life Sport, Reshmi, Section 34 with a few additives are heaped onto the public agenda and any other new bacchanal which can be found will be flung onto the bonfire, the hope being to consume the opponents with smoke, not necessarily fire.

On the other side, the Morvant Housing project is resuscitated, so too will the Tarouba Stadium, and as is also becoming apparent, millions will be spent to make housing units, left in the sun and the rain for years, now ready for distribution and occupation.
In the minds and calculations of these purveyors of public propaganda is an electorate sitting, gullible, ready to absorb the long tales as a means of deciding who to vote for.

The Solutions by Simulations poll could not come at a better time. While it does not produce anything that is new, its findings place in “black and white” and with some scientific method behind it what we all know: the two tribal parties have their support bases in more or less equal percentages of the electorate while an ever-growing portion of the electorate is standing outside of that rush to support tribe and party ready to be logically persuaded, unimpressed by claims and counters of either group of propagandists.

As the results of the last three to four general elections show, many in that solid bank of non-voters will remain there waiting to be galvanised into action by something and some party that is different. That portion of the electorate is looking for a party that can convince that it will bring change to the politics; a party committed to transforming the governance structure to reward the electorate with greater efficiency and be able to take meaningful and timely action against those who steal from the Treasury.  

For politicians who want to be taken seriously by the 25 per cent non-aligned, they must demonstrate the action they have taken on previous claims of scandal, especially that which is internal to the party and government. A government cannot go chasing after $26 million while $400 million spirited away under its watch goes uninvestigated.   

Now, it is not as if bringing to the attention of the electorate mass corruption and inefficiency is not important, it is that the parties/government simply raise these matters for public propaganda purposes while they do little to ensure prosecution.  

A rough calculation of the hundreds of millions of dollars (adding up to billions) spent to feed party and election machinery, the incompetence of governments in the expenditure of the national income and the wastage of the patrimony of this and generations to come could reduce the citizen to tears, especially when there is so much left to be done; so many people remain in deep need and neglect.  

For serious attention to be paid to the propaganda campaigns, public officials must make ah jail and be made to languish in one of those most inhumane cells crowded with 14-16 very angry men. Propaganda wars are engaged by the parties and governments to pull at our emotions as the allegations are stored away the moment the ballots are counted; only to be revived five years later.

That portion of the electorate not caught up in the emotional pull of party and tribe should not be easy prey for the propaganda machines, well-oiled with funds from the corporations, the ones who will receive billion-dollar contracts. 

The propaganda swells are quite powerful, they sweep the tribes to the polls as they contemplate that their self-worth self-value, their cultural and religious mores will be given national approbation and recognition when their party is in power. Those at the end of the food chain understand that the main course is not for them and settle for being able to know they will “eat ah food” when their party wins power.  

I have said it previously in other columns and fora, the conscious voter must reflect on how adult franchise was won by our ancestors. It came after decades of refusal to accept the less-than-human condition placed on our people by the colonial authorities through slavery and indentureship.

Residents of the city of Port-of-Spain burnt down the Red House when the colonial secretary sought to deny them a representative borough council; Captain Cipriani led the “barefoot” workers; stevedores on the Port struck; Jim Bharat and Elma Francois agitated; sugar workers in Tunapuna and Caroni revolted, and Butler led the battle against the colonial authorities through his “Home Rule” party.

We cannot give away the right to vote on the basis of emotional pulls and to place in power the new governors who exploit our emotions and fears. 


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