The graying men in the PNC
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IN 1984, I found myself living in the western state of Utah in the United States, where, after more than two decades of being deprived by the then dictatorial regime of Guyana, I was able to watch television. While this was a memorable occasion, it was actually what I watched on television that allowed me now to jump-start this column regarding the graying of the PNC leaders.

It was the first of three Presidential debates between Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale. Reagan quipped: “I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience,” Reagan was 73 years old and Mondale was much younger.

In Guyana, leading up to March 2, 2020 general elections, I submitted a number of letters to the dailies, and on social media, on how a slew of old men within the PNC and some small political parties were competing for leadership roles, and, in so doing, they were marginalising, if not excluding, the youths in their camp. One older politician chastised me on social media for practising prejudice and discrimination toward people of old age, commonly known in sociological circles as ageism.

The politician was suggesting that many world leaders were in their mid-70s and were active, healthy, and of sound mind. The politician’s position was not as eloquently stated as Reagan’s but his message was essentially the same, notably, do not judge a book by the age of the cover. Furthermore, and if I could use sociologist Lars Tornstam’s theory that goes by the mouthful gerotranscendence, which states as people grow old their limited views of life expand. They are tolerable of this and that.

While we cannot safely compare and contrast aging in the United States and Guyana because of the differences in healthcare of both countries, although some politicians have access to international healthcare, there are some advantages of growing old in the position of leadership.

Historically, and which is still prevalent in some traditional societies, old age and leadership were like two peas in the same pod. They were a storehouse of knowledge, wisdom, and skills that were transmitted from one generation to the next. Unfortunately, we have seen the flip side of this in the PNC, and that is, the marginalisation of youths and how to rig elections.

This is not a jab at the PNC; it is an undisputed fact. In the modern period, it is argued that as older people remain active, be it in politics or otherwise, they could be productive and even enjoy a satisfying life. Moreover, being active implicitly means continuous engagement in any aspect of life, and, when consolidated, translates into not being a couch potato or a burden to anyone. When applying these arguments to the PNC, I say to myself, “oh lard, help I.”

I have written before on the incompetence, the corruption, and even on how the ordinary man in the street had difficulty trying to understand why the coalition was so senseless and unconstitutional, over-stepping the boundaries of the law. May I remind you what I wrote in Guyana Times (05.26.17): “This regime [APNU+AFC] has not only mastered the art of propaganda but it is running on a treadmill of propaganda. The regime is working overtime in overdrive to spew propaganda to ensure another term in office. The zeitgeist of change this regime so promised is a pipe dream and mark my words, expect more propaganda this same time next year. This is now the regime’s game plan until 2020.”

I am not a mind reader, but I do not expect to write almost the same thing about the former coalition government in late 2021. What we have now is not only an extension of propaganda, misinformation, and disinformation but a display of warring and warning personalities among those who are vying for the headship post of the PNC. The AFC is goose-stepping with them in prepared silence. All this leads to one unfortunate direction, and that is, the continuation of the marginalization and exclusion of the youths.

These old men in the PNC, who are in the 70s and are political leftovers of the Burnham era, have reached some anchored points in their life. Their continued presence has led to the absence of intergenerational dialectics within the PNC. Can anyone who is reading this column point to one youth who has been groomed in leadership by those individuals who are competing to govern the PNC?

This disengagement has ensured that positions of responsibility have been secured for the graying men in the PNC, displacing the opportunity for the smooth transition of power from the old to the young. What this approach has revealed is that PNC thinks that their youths do not need political nurturing. Instead, they rely on natural political developers, a huge mistake (lomarsh.roopnarine@jsums.edu).

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