IN his new book, A Promised Land, former U.S. President Barrack Obama writes about the penchant of his administration in its second year of office for using obtuse verbiage such as“excessive partisanship” and “special interests” in Washington when denouncing or calling out Republican misconduct.
He says that his administration ought to have been telling a morality tale with clear good guys and bad guys. But their messaging, though factual, lacked a storyline that could be easily followed by those not engaged with the details, and it did not speak to their emotions.
Casting his mind back, he reflected, “I found myself wondering whether we’d somehow turned a virtue into a vice; whether, trapped in my own high-mindedness, I’d failed to tell the American people a story they could believe in; and whether, having ceded the political narrative to my critics, I was going to be able to wrest it back”.
In other words, he observed, to be effective governance can’t be so antiseptic that it set aside the basic stuff of politics – you have to sell your programme.
The PPP/C has travelled this road — most notably in 2015– when having brought the country back from being the second poorest to the fastest-growing economy in the Region, they expected their economic record to speak for itself. But unrestrained by either scruples or facts, APNU+AFC effectively painted the administration as corrupt to the core. And kept hammering away at that.
It is of little consolation that all the years of audits and investigations by SARA did not turn up the systemic corruption with which the administration was tagged. However, the accusations were instrumental in unseating the government and the resultant precipitous downward spiral of the country.
APNU+AFC is now again escalating their torrent of disinformation. Mind-bogglingly, they are doing this coming off their five years of scandals, pillaging of the treasury and an attempted coup. They and their surrogates are everywhere accusing the current government of rigging the election, racial discrimination, intimidation, and on and on. Somehow or other even well- intentioned and intelligent people are mislead by the deluge of untruths. Maybe repeat something often enough and it takes on the appearance of truth.
The Coalition and their surrogates are not mobilised with the best interest of the country in mind. Their thinking has no use for the fact that taking the high road is not only the ethical thing to do; it’s the beneficial thing to do.
No amount of coaxing seems likely to get the Coalition to take the high road. They go on unfettered, seizing every opportunity to spread falsehoods and misinformation
The country is caught in the jaws of the prisoner’s dilemma. If one party takes the high road and the other does not, there is an imbalance. The country is the collateral damage. The government bears a cost and the country bears a cost.
It cannot be assumed that people will see through these gross misrepresentations. And that progressive programmes and better governance will completely offset this. The goal cannot be only to govern well and be re-elected. The messaging has to aim to bring as many Guyanese as possible to a place where they can recognise what’s going on.