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Will youth inspire and force change?

Sunday, April 8, 2018

“I just threw up on international television; it feels so good,” was the reaction of the teenager when, she, like hundreds of thousands of her peers across the US, and a reported 800 protest sites spread worldwide, said they were sick of the senseless killing of teenagers and were against guns and violence.

The young lady, tingling with enthusiasm, but not overwhelmed, was satisfied that she had successfully taken on the establishment in a very unorthodox manner.

It was a confrontation not only against guns and violence but a movement against an unconscionable economic system represented by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and its primary intention to manufacture and sell more guns notwithstanding the consequences.

Moreover, the estimated 800,000 who marched on Washington said to President Trump, whose major response to the crisis was to buy into a plan to arm teachers to allow the gun manufacturers to produce and sell even more guns, that “change” has to come.

The youth indicated their intention not to take “mamaguy” talk and be satisfied with platitudes.

Their ultimate plan is to promote registration for congressional elections later this year among their generation.

The stated intention of the young people is to demand a commitment to gun control policies of those who they would elect.

But while these millions of young Americans and further millions of people all over the world were screaming for freedom, participation, and the transformation of society and its values, Presidents Xi, Putin, and Donald Trump were pushing for total control of their countries.

In America, President Trump through policy, dogma, and texts is angling for the one per cent to take even greater and tighter control of America and the resources of the society.

The positions adopted by the big three—Xi, Putin, and Trump—and those in the comfortable economic and social classes with much to defend will severely test the stated commitment of the youth to achieve change.

I utilise the American situation to highlight our condition here in T&T, the Caribbean, and elsewhere, where the old politics of blind followship of leaders and their parties has not delivered.

Two weeks ago my column advocated that those supporters of the two major parties, sufficiently conscious of the reality that notwithstanding the trillion-plus dollars (a significant percentage in US dollars) collected and available to succeeding governments to transform the society and economy, the PNM and UNC have shown themselves incapable of the challenge.

The column noted too, that sitting on the margins is not an effective option for those of us not wanting to be smeared by party politics. Clinging to a party is not the only way to become involved in political change.

In T&T, the two major movements for change of the social, economic, and political status quo (1937 and 1970) began with a few with limited ambitions and even fewer resources.

A few dozen workers in oil and sugar (1937) determined to achieve change in their condition of squalor and dehumanisation.

In 1970, a disparate band of university students, unemployed and desperate urban youth, trade union leaders, a few radical academics came together with a notion of initiating change to the historical condition of the marginalized.

The kind of intervention being advocated, that of meaningful people participation in government, has a dynamic of its own.

We experienced “Kamlamania”, and the hope presented by political alignments among parties, labour, and social segments of the society; that turned into a fragmented disaster.

A return to the PNM after the 2010-2015 experience has proven half-way through the term to be leading to a dead end.

A significant section of the American population is investing in youth and Mueller to bring about widespread change, including that of race relations.

People participation and the emergence of quality leadership across the society have to be our Special Prosecutors.


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