A couple of Saturdays ago, a small group of intrepid Guyanese took the bit between their teeth and came together to put out publicly what many have called for often, with varying degrees of sincerity. This little group of around ten citizens placed before Guyanese, the Electoral Reform Group. I recognize their interest, appreciate their objective(s), and support their daring. The best is wished, and I plan on lending a hand, even if only philosophically and morally.
I must say I know of a few in this fledgling group. Their intentions seem patriotic; their bona fides contributory to what could be constructive. This is said, with understanding that it is an uphill road chosen, many grueling tasks with obstacles littered all over: ‘no silver bullet’ for cure, as they themselves admitted. Like I said from the inception, intrepid souls they are; and for that alone, doffing of sombrero and bowing. Now I am troubled that in the mainstream media, reactions have been largely muted. I expected comments, mostly welcoming for being timely and necessary; and, of course, cynics taking a different tack, this now being the settled comforting culture of democracy’s mission accomplished in Guyana. But we have not even had that, and I wonder why. I acknowledge that the main action may be on social media platforms, where cognoscenti and clamorers congregate. But in the arenas where the tempered engage, there has been silence. Not quite deafening, but disheartening to me.
For I seem to recall that more than a few had taken to the airwaves to lament with hands over their hearts that lack of electoral reform is at the crux of our perennial problems, and the need for such could not be overemphasized, overstated, or overproduced. I am concerned that they have gone ominously quiet. It is as if the usual is playing out. That is, with the most controversial, thorniest, national elections season over, and specific objectives met, there is neither interest nor urgency for electoral reform right now. As said: mission accomplished: party triumphant. What else is there?
If such is the thinking, I disagree strongly, sharply, immediately with the conscientious and principled Guyanese accepting and going underground on this. No other kind of thinking could be more helpful to the grim prospects, the high likelihood, of a worse repetition of what was endured for nineteen months (or 60 years). Nothing could be more detrimental to us finding a way forward to resolving our eternal electoral crises, or hostile to defusing the rank hostilities and naked venoms that characterized so much of past and the recent elections, in the intervals before, during, and the raw aftermaths. The new ERG cannot do it alone.
Editor, this thinking, which fosters complacency, merely buys time today for us to make abject and greater embarrassments of ourselves tomorrow. I am totally out of the picture, an occasional voice from the wilderness now cherished, and I am appalled at how we rage at elections times and then settle into seething stillness afterwards.
This makes me question, like so many things about Guyana, how really authentic we are deep down in the things that matter, those same things that we shout that we must have and now. For here it is that we have some younger (somewhat), stranger (not quite) voices and presences, and the response has been humdrum. If these things are going to work, they cannot be peopled by the same recyclables that turn up at every drawing of lots. Those same recycled people are too much the embodiment of the stale and stagnant and what suffocates with the tired and treacherous.
We need the new and the altruistic. I may be wrong about these new electoral reform people, but I am willing to do so, since there is little to lose, much that this country can gain. I hasten to point this out: not I, who do not have a dog anymore in Guyana’s political dogfights; but for this society, if it’s to have a dog’s chance in this life.