On the heels of the overwhelming defeat in the last two Elections, the Opposition People's National Movement find themselves with no clear identity other than 'who they are not' at this time.
While some measure of 'rebranding' and 'rebuilding' is expected under the circumstances, the leadership needs to take the steps required to effect change and rightsize as quickly as possible, because being seen to be doing nothing is having no effect on the fortunes of the Party and is offering little as alternative to the people and we say get on with it.
The electorate needs to know that there are options available, a Government in waiting with a plan for the country, as the people who did not vote for the People's Partnership or who do not support the existing 'Party in Power' are being badly done by.
With no safe haven for them to gather and prepare a challenge to governance, the disenchanted are being left to wander on their own. This is a dangerous development and leaves the place ripe for the advancement of undemocratic principles in the name of the voiceless.
As Martin Luther King Junior said "A riot is the language of the unheard."
History has shown us time and again that a disenchanted people left to their own devices are ripe for the plucking by men of means and selfish agendas. We have seen the results of a neutered electorate before, when, given free reign to register their dissatisfaction with what was then being offered as governance, looted the city and attempted to burn the capital to the ground.
The Opposition needs to demonstrate that it at least understands its role under what now obtains, and as a direct result of this silence within the confines of the current circumstances, one feels compelled to ask, is Dr. Rowley up to the task?
Does he, in fact, possess the 'stuff' of which leaders are made?
This is not meant to question his debating skills, personal integrity and Parliamentary acumen, but real leadership (especially in these circumstances), requires much, much more than that. Now that he is firmly in the leader's chair, he needs to demonstrate without a shadow of a doubt that he is in fact a leader of men and capable of enunciating a vision for the country and its people.
I have had cause to say before that this country needs a strong Opposition if it is to survive any assault on its rules, ethics and conventions, and the apparent invisibility of the Leader of the Opposition is leaving everyone feeling like they have to fend for themselves.
In response to that statement, I was told in true Trinidadian comic style that Dr. Rowley was preparing to mount an assault but was operating in 'stealth' mode. As funny as that is, this is serious business and the country simply cannot afford weakness in its defense while a majority Government under men of questionable virtue have at their mercy the resources of the State and the future of the people in their hands.
It would be a relief to this writer if he (Dr. Rowley) were to take umbrage at the question and to answer it definitively by actions alone, so as to give the unsure and the disenchanted the comfort of the knowledge that a challenge can be mounted (guided by strong democratic principles) for the reins of power at anytime should the worst occur.
For all his failings (and they are now the stuff of legend) it must be mentioned here for contrast purposes; Patrick Manning had to rebuild the People's National Movement from a defeat so severe that even Opposition was not his divine right to claim. With a mere three seats in Parliament facing an overwhelming majority, the then PNM had to rebuild from literally the ground up and to reposition itself as an alternative to Government and an Administration in waiting.
Despite the constant campaigning and public relations to the contrary, the country is in an increasingly bad state of affairs. Violent crimes and murder are on the rise, home invasions by armed thugs are now commonplace and the people are feeling increasingly powerless.
Coupled with a slowing economy and racist rumblings from people who should know better, there is reason for all manner of men to be vigilant at this time.
If the disenchanted continue to find themselves with nowhere to turn and no advocate agitating on their behalf, they may be increasingly tempted to take matters into their own hands, and the peaceful enjoyment of life and property guaranteed to us all under the Constitution may be undone to our detriment.
The already ailing rule of law, buckling from years of bloodletting on the ground and massive abuse and corruption from on high may not survive a fresh assault.
Something to think about...