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Political office for individual, group gain

Sunday, January 7, 2018

As the need for change in the political culture becomes increasingly apparent, a clinical study of politics, politicians, their parties, the background and motivations for their pursuit of office and power is as necessity as the first step to transformation.

Politicians form parties with people of kindred spirits, usually small groups of people brought together by what they perceive to be necessary to make policies and initiate programmes for societal and individual human development. It is from such platforms that parties and politicians launch their attack to control the resources and lives of us all.

The history of political mobilisation here and elsewhere is broadly the same. People of like mind, ideology, cling together in their belief that certain organising principles for political action, economic planning and social development are the best options for society.

Here and elsewhere, tribal and social class alliances, friendships and camaraderie are among the essential factors which bring groups of people together to fashion and establish political parties. Together, they convince themselves and portions of the electorate that they can formulate and implement policies and programmes that are superior to other groups.

Those are the ostensible, publicly paraded reasons, all based on stated altruistic desires which politicians give as their reasons to serve country and humanity. However, there are hidden dispositions and agendas held by individuals and groups of people who come forward to sell themselves to the electorate.

It’s these sufficiently hidden reasons for political and, eventually, government office which give us the greatest insight into the politicians, and what can be reasonably expected of them once in office.

Having a taste and feel for power is a most compelling reason. British political psychologist and former UK government minister, David Owens, says many from this group grow into the dictators of the world—including the likes of Bush and Blair, and those considered vicious, despots—the Saddams and Duvaliers.

In plural societies such as T&T, individuals and parties seek power for the tribe with the intention of gaining cultural ascendancy and often the physical wherewithal to realise cultural domination of one group over the other.

For many, seeking political office is as basic as getting a job. In instances, holding political office allows certain individuals to receive salaries and perks way in excess of their qualifications and experience. In many instances, such people bring few skills and little experience to public office.

The bad decisions which have cost billions in public funds and fostered the growth of the culture of corruption are the result of individuals and groups who do not have the skills, experience and disposition to lead billion-dollar ministries.

Then there are those who come to political office to use its visibility as a launch pad for jobs in the private sector. Few are those who take public office with a cut in salary. Many become “stuck” in public office and so cannot develop a career outside of it; they hang on like leaches.

Among the most notoriously intentioned are those who set out to gain public office as a means of placing themselves in a position to direct contracts and the like to family and individual welfare. So too, there are corporate executives who temporarily step off the production line to give a boost to corporate interests both in the short and long term.

The billionaire US president, his colleagues in ministerial office and the congressional leaders who serve the interests of the business elite are examples of this category. Then there are the party hacks who take as their responsibility the survival and growth of the party as a means of keeping themselves and their brethren in office.

I am sure readers know of other categories. The question is how to create a political environment that will sift out the unwanted?

To be continued….


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