By Clement J. Rohee
OPPOSITION Leader, Aubrey Norton, should have paid attention to the words of former US President, Barack Obama, when he declared at a recent public-speaking event in the US that, “Democracy is under assault in the US and around the world’ and that ‘the foundational principles of democracy are being challenged.”
Placed in the context of political developments in the US, President Obama’s observation reflects a topical issue being debated currently in America.
The former US President did not limit his observations to America; he was perceptive enough to note that the threat to democracy is global.
Obama’s observations are instructive insofar as Guyana’s electoral experiences, and by extension, its fragile democracy are concerned.
Guyanese would have recognised the relevance of Obama’s comments to their experience during the March-August 2020 period when Norton’s party launched an assault on democracy in a blatant attempt to rig the results of the election held in March of that year.
Mr. Norton cannot pretend to be deaf in one ear as regards statements by Republican congressmen and senators referring to positive developments in Guyana while at the same time supporting negative and uninformed comments about Guyana expressed by NYC Attorney General, Letitia James, and congressman Hakeem Jefferies, both Democrats.
In the light of his open support for statements by the two J’s, the PNC/R leader has mistakenly chosen to pay no attention to the peculiar and dynamic nature of American politics. His preference was to slavishly and unthinkingly hinge the APNU’s wagon to the jaundiced views held by the two J’s concerning the state of governance in Guyana.
However, because of the heterogeneous nature, diverse social composition and at times discordant views within the Democratic Party, it is highly unlikely that the views expressed by the two J’s would reflect the opinions and beliefs of others in that Party.
Of the over two hundred odd congressmen/women and fifty senators belonging to the Democratic Party, there are many whose views on Guyana differ fundamentally from those of the two J’s.
Whether Mr. Norton likes it or not, apart from its pursuance of mutually beneficial relations many developing countries and irrespective of a Democratic or Republican administration in office, Guyana is poised to enter a new dynamic chapter in pursuit of its foreign policy and its bilateral relations with foreign countries especially China and the USA.
Recent visits to the USA by President Ali and reciprocal visits to Guyana by a constant flow of representatives of American banking and financial institutions attest to this fact.
President Ali is yet to pay state visits to China and India, and no doubt, when the Lula administration settles down in Brasilia, a state visit to that neighbouring country is likely to be in the cards.
As a former foreign service officer, Mr. Norton must know that foreign policy is an expression of domestic policy. Contextually, the vertical and horizontal expansion of Guyana’s foreign policy is demonstrated at the domestic level by the Ali administration’s people-to-people upwards and broadened outreaches currently making waves across the country.
This brings us to the recent pronouncement by Mr. Norton who expressed “fear of government’s taking over opposition strongholds,” a clear sign of organisational weaknesses and visionless leadership by the Norton-led APNU.
But what must be more worrying for Mr. Norton is the AFC’s fallout with the APNU as reflected in its decision to boycott the impending local government election and to bid au revoir to its concubinage with the APNU.
Worse yet, is Mr. Norton’s pursuit of an uncaring and deliberate policy towards his own supporters who see their needs being frittered away because of their leader’s confrontational and inflexible politics vis-a-vis the Ali administration.
As he persists in Don Quixote fashion by engaging in useless battles with government, Mr. Norton not only hinders, but denies his supporters of their needs.
If Mr. Norton thinks he’s doing the right thing by playing the role of the hardliner and by constantly playing the racial card, he is wrong. It is his combative posture and non-cooperation with government that will see him become his own worst enemy. It is this counterproductive pathway that will help the PPP/C to takeover strongholds he claims to be his party’s.
Mr. Norton appears to be a total stranger to conflict resolution and the need to work with government to improve the wellbeing of his constituents. Instead, he foolhardily persists in exposing his supporters unnecessarily to hardship at a time when the economy is on the upswing with numerous government-sponsored developmental projects being implemented across the country.
Had it not been for government’s efforts to reach out to the many non-traditional areas of support, residents in those areas would have been ‘left out in the cold’ because of the wooden-headed policies pursued by the Opposition Leader.
Instead of wasting time discouraging his supporters from participating fully in government-sponsored developmental projects across the country, Mr. Norton should show his supporters how they stand to benefit from the vastly improved goods and services provided by government.
Mr. Norton seems to be more interested in pushing the racial envelope hoping that by doing so he can prevent the loss of seats in the National Assembly come General and Regional election in 2025.
Norton does not appear to be prepared to accept the prevailing realities. He is determined not to uplift the lives of his supporters. He refuses to see political adaptation as a devise for a more inclusive approach for the all-round development for all Guyanese.
Behaving like a big bad wolf won’t work these good days nor will such behaviour wash away the images of the electoral heist that was attempted in 2020.
If Norton believes that by huffing and puffing he’ll blow the PPP/C house down, he better start thinking again.