POLITICAL PERSPECTIVES From Robin Montano;
Feb 3, 2023
I have been conducting my own very, very inaccurate survey as to whether or not people in general are satisfied or dissatisfied with the way things are going in T&T. I have asked a lot of people if they think that the country is on the right track and how or where the country will be next year.
I have also been asking people whether or not they believe that the newspapers are reporting things accurately. In my (admittedly very unscientific) survey I was not surprised to find a rather partisan divide. Depending on whether or not the person was a UNC or a PNM supporter the answers to this question fell along rather predictable lines – most UNC supporters felt that the three daily newspapers were biased against their political party and that the stories in the newspapers tended to reflect this bias. Most of the PNM supporters felt that the reporting was reasonably fair and accurately.
In answer to my first question (above) most people, regardless of their political bias, felt that the country was going downhill. My impression in talking with people is that they are deeply unhappy with the state of affairs in the country. UNC supporters certainly feel that the country is on the wrong track. While those who support the PNM have grown somewhat gloomy since the election with inflation and job losses entering into the picture. And don’t discount the trauma of the murder/crime rate! The UNC’s problem here is that, except for the die hard UNC voters, most people believe that nothing short of an absolute dictatorship can solve this problem. In other words, the UNC has not convinced people that it can fix our crime problem.
Interestingly, most people seem to feel that the politicians on both sides are “a waste of time” and who will lie at the drop of a hat. Incidentally, I should say, by the way, that in my “survey” I determined and classified who was a supporter of which party by asking them how they voted in 2020. Persons who might be classified or classify themselves as “floating voters” tended to report that they had voted for the PNM while “holding their noses”. On further questioning, a lot of these people tended to report that they believed that the collective leadership of the UNC was weak and ineffectual.
That there is a clear disconnect between the political parties and the population as a whole is clear. But that disconnect seems to be shaped partially -and in many cases is amplified – by people’s fear of what the other party might or might not do (whoever the “other party” might be). All the supporters of each side are afraid to lose and race is a big (unspoken) part of the picture. But no one thinks that they are winning either.
I asked this question of both sides: do you think that the country will improve? And overwhelmingly the answer was in the negative – on both sides!
I didn’t ask, but I do think that there seems to be a racial divide underway. Put another way, although there seems to be a lot of discontent “on the ground”, discontent will not predict election results the way that it used to.
There were other questions pertaining to the leadership on both sides of the political divide – the answers to which are fairly predictable. In 2020 the PNM won largely by running as “not the UNC”. They seem to be setting up the same theme for a reprise in 2025. Question: will that be enough?
P.S. To those readers who might take issue with my “survey”, let me state as clearly as I can that it can in no way even pretends to be scientific. But what I have written is the rather firm impression that I have got having talked with a lot of people. I would be the first to admit that I got it wrong if subsequent events (all things being equal) prove this.