Trinidad had an election on Monday. We’ve known about it for six weeks, of course, but I didn’t post anything. Frankly, I just didn’t have much to say – while I wanted to see Manning repudiated for his incompetence, I found Kamla and company totally uninspiring (quick: name 5 policy promises made by the People’s Partnership. “No more Calder Hart” doesn’t count.) Still, the size of Monday’s landslide was heartening, and it’s hard not to feel at least some of the optimism that our predecessors must have felt in 1986 – with Manning’s resignation, we now have new leadership on both sides of the aisle, and maybe, just maybe, we can put the foolishness that ran rampant between 1991 and now behind us.
In fact, every time Trinidad pulls off an election, it’s hard not to feel a little tinge of pride. We take the peaceful transfer of power as a given in much of the English-speaking Caribbean, but it’s worth remembering that in Trinidad, it hadn’t happened before 1986 (because it hadn’t come up, not because of resistance). It might not seem like a big deal, but it’s a basic requirement of democracy, and incredibly rare occurrence in human history. We’re doing pretty well in this respect, especially for a former colony with two equally balanced ethnic groups, each aligned with one party or the other.
And I have to admit that I also swelled a little while reading about Kamla Persad-Bissessar being sworn in with the Baghavad Gita. It really drives home how unique Trinidad is. I live in a country that considers itself the melting pot to end all melting pots, but where people head to their fainting couches at the mere suggestion that our President (or even a couple of members of Congress) may have read the Koran a couple of times. Meanwhile, Trinidad elects a Hindu Prime Minister and no-one there bats an eyelid (well, about the Hinduism, in any case). Trinidad is a place where diversity is just a part of daily life, rather than an aspiration or a political billy club, and I feel lucky to be from there.
That’s enough positivity. Time to return to the usual complaining about the sad state of Trinidadian government! I’m sure seeing Jack Warner in the cabinet will provide plenty fodder down the road…