In the game of National Politics in Trinidad & Tobago, the UNC and the PNM consider themselves the big dogs and use every opportunity to relegate the COP to the position of 'young upstart' who they tolerate and 'allow' to jump around and play.
The Leadership of the Congress of the People needs to resist this 'pigeon holing' and understand that the Party represents hope for better tomorrow to most of the 'middle of the road' people of the country, far and away the largest single grouping of all of the citizens, and the one most people have no problem being considered a part of.
We all tend to think ourselves Trinidadians and Tobagonians first.
If the COP hopes to be considered a National Political Party, it needs to start believing that it is one so that it can start behaving like one. Most people would gladly leave either of the other two 'National' Parties and join the COP in droves if it would only acknowledge that it too wants to be a big dog. Nobody backs a loser, and the tongue in cheek 'don't mind us' card has been played too often now.
Things are not always as they seem from outside of the fray, and if you want to play with the big dogs you do not stand on the sidelines and wait for permission to play. First and foremost, the Party needs to shake off the leash that most UNC members (especially its Cabinet Ministers) feel that they have on it, this concept that the COP is sharing the spoils of Office because it rode in on the UNC's coattails.
That is bogus hogwash and should not be allowed to continue or to be accepted as fact.
The truth of the matter (and history will support this) is that, without the full support of the Congress of the People and its supporters, Jack and Kamla's Yellow Revolution was going to fizzle even worse that Jack and Panday's Orange Revolution and for the same exact reason.
Outside of its rabid core membership and the 'Johnny come lately' opportunists, no one trusts the UNC.
Not even seven months in Office the UNC has made some foolish blundering missteps to reinforce this lack of trustworthiness in people's minds; allowing Ish and Steve to frustrate a lawful, legal request to answer serious charges in the United States for crimes committed there and reneging on promises made on the campaign trail to seniors and farmers is no way to earn the respect they so desperately need to change that negative impression.
As some say, maybe you can't teach an old dog new tricks.
Caught up in the struggle for alpha dog position, the two 'major' Parties seem to have failed to see the changing mood of the population, coincidentally and very relevantly tied to the changing of the generation of Williams and Panday.
The electoral demographic is not simply about race anymore, and the people seem to be experimenting with their new political power; change is still very much in the air.
The other big dog, the PNM, remains no threat to anyone as it is in a self induced state of disarray; many members are waiting on a General Assembly for the Party to reinvent itself, because at present the executive seems mismatched to the Leadership and one or the other is going to have to give way for the Party to speak with one voice.
In today's world of instant referendums that is far too long; the Party needs to embrace sweeping institutional change as to how it governs itself if it wants to survive or prepare to go the way of the dinosaurs. For some reason, most of the intellectual elite at the top of the Party and some of its more seasoned financiers are content to gamble the Party's future on a collapse of the People's Partnership Coalition, and this lazy approach to politics is winning them no new converts or members.
It may very well be time for some serious internal challenges within that Party if it has any hope of surviving in the new era, but that, as some would say, is their business.
Belaboring the metaphor to the very end, the Congress of the People needs to bite back a little harder now.
The Party has to get back on something like an election footing if it hopes to live up to its potential and increase its committed support base. It desperately needs to establish itself as a vibrant, middle of the road, non racist, non secular, all inclusive Party so that people would be inspired to join and to encourage others to join.
To do this, it needs to open Constituency Offices in every constituency regardless of what its present partners think, and where that is not practical it needs to have monthly 'meet the candidate' constituency 'discussions' in those areas.
More than anything now, the electorate wants to know that they have a say in their politics. Long held mute by the politics of race and agenda, the Congress of the People brings hope of a better day when all may feel to contribute in the building of a Government 'of the people' 'for the people.'
In these times of desperate change and curious agendas, the people need something safe and stable to belong to. A third force in the politics makes everyone bring their 'A' game, and that is good for everybody.
To this writer, Messrs. Toney and De Lima are saying all the right things at the right time, and Mr. Dookeran does not seem interested in pulling punches to please anyone's personal issues and sensibilities any longer.
All things considered, the view from the ground is that the Party is in good shape and ready for what may come, and the COP just might come out as top dog after all is said and done.
Something to think about...