Once every five years or so (or less if Patrick Manning happens to be Prime Minister) we have an 'event' we call 'elections,' made up of more pageant than politics and from this we 'elect' our leaders. These winners go on to enjoy the best advantages that life in T&T has to offer until the time runs out, when the bell is rung and the whole process starts all over again. Very much like an American reality TV show, ours could just as easily be called - 'So You Think You Could Lie' as from that, more than anything else, is how we choose our leaders.
To succeed in this contest one of the most important tools needed by far is the art of duplicity, the ability to make a thing appear as something else entirely without changing who the public perceives you to be.
Take Stephen Cadiz for example; when Stephen was dragging the memory of Keith Noel's half eaten corpse the length and breadth of this country, did you think for one second that he was auditioning for a job as Minister of Trade? Of course not, so successful was his 'surreptistity' and misdirection that today many believe that he is still working assiduously to reduce the crime that led to poor Keith's untimely death, and I applaud him for his skillful use of misplaced emotion to convince all and sundry that he still has one foot on that coffin. Duplicity is what allows an Errol McLeod to continue on as Minister of Labour while doing absolutely nothing for his former comrades or for labor for that matter yet still retaining a place among them should he find himself removed from the Cabinet. Errol knows that the Prime Minster knows that he retains an extensive repertoire of selections for if he is ejected from the Partnership, guaranteeing him a spot in a government for which the ability to vociferously support a thing today and be totally against it tomorrow is a most essential skill. Members of the Congress of the People seem to have been schooled in this art also, as the distance between what they campaigned against and what they have stood for since achieving office cannot be measured.
Another important talent for the politically ambitious is 'misdirection,' the art of getting people to focus only on what you want them to see. Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar has an almost Merlin-esque grasp of this skill and continues to deploy 'CCJ's' and 'states of emergency' as needed to distract the electorate from questioning nepotistic appointments, intoxicated bunglings and outright failings of her government. Easily eclipsing Patrick 'PM could also mean Project Manager' Manning in the use of this timeless art, Kamla appears to have a reserve of 'bombs' ready to deploy on an unsuspecting population easily distracted by loud noises and shiny things.
Demonstrated over time though, Magic, the art of illusion remains the most impressive of skill-sets. The ability to bend reality to suit your facts has been heralded since the days of Camelot, and none possess it in more abundance than Jack Warner. I believe that men like Warner or television personality Ian Alleyne only captures people's attention out of a type of morbid curiosity as to what next they could possibly say or do. At Warner rallies and press conferences it is not unusual to see people watching each other with a perplexed expression, almost saying, one to the other, did he REALLY just say that? Even members of the press corps, seasoned journalists accustomed to the smoke and mirrors that our politics has become appear caught off guard at times, and like people hypnotized, stand there too stunned to ask a coherent question. And if you think this applies only to this side of the aisle think again. The ability to rise to his feet and spew rationally sounding nonsense ad-nauseum with sartorial pomp and splendor while simultaneously distancing himself from his own nothing stint as a Minister is what allows Amery Browne to get away the ruse when all he really wants is a job with perks. To the constituents of Diego Martin Central he exists only on TV where he plays their MP.
I ask myself repeatedly who is more to blame for the state of our democracy, the self serving deceivers, or the lazy voters who elect them? Like with the question of the chicken or the egg, I cannot say for sure, but what I DO know with clarity is that as long as what we demand from our leaders is theatre and entertainment, then that is exactly what we are going to get.