by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 27 July 2006)
As an independent observer of Guyana's political system, I find often myself attempting to compare it to other political systems for better comprehension. This comparative method is often used in political science education, not only with the various political groups throughout the world, but also throughout history.
Hence, since I am obligated as a citizen to keep a vigil eye on the US government, I am obviously more prone to use this system when comparing politics. In doing so, I have found there is a lot more in common between the two systems than most would think at first.
Of course, both systems are democracies and both nations were colonised by Britain. Both countries have also had their share of racial upheaval. It is also interesting to note that although Guyana uses a Parliamentary System to govern and the US uses a Presidential System – the end result is often very similar.
As I consider the depth of what has been achieved during the last year in the US Congress, I find that I am sorely disappointed by lack of anything substantial. In fact, except for quibbling back and forth, the US congressional representatives have accomplished very little in this last year.
It seems like so much time is spent vying for position, trying to dog the other party and attempting to maintain a certain status in the eyes of the constituency that the leaders of the US government have accomplished virtually nothing of consequence in a whole year.
Likewise, between the two primary parties in Guyana, parliament has accomplished very little in the last year. When would they have had the time when they are so busy pushing blame and throwing accusations?
To be fair, the National Assembly did pass legislation raising the legal age of consent from a very young 13 to a more reasonable 16. This should have been at least 17, but at least the law protects the younger teenaged girls now.
This much I will give to the government. Aside from this legislation, very little else was accomplished in an entire year. That is unless you want to consider slinging mud and pushing blame a new way to govern a nation.
In contemplation of the severe lack of anything significant coming from either of these governments – Guyana and the US – I could not help but wonder if this is the wave of the future. Is this how governments around the world now conduct themselves?
Are the people burdened with archaic political systems that work against their best interest instead of progressive structures capable of locating weaknesses and making the necessary remedies as quickly as possible?
Unfortunately, if I were to answer my own questions, the sad truth of the matter is that we are trapped by our own political systems – the very systems created to protect and serve us.
Moreover, since those systems were also designed to be very cumbersome should we decide to make any changes, even to the dated aspects, is nearly impossible to garner enough interest from the general population to institute advantageous revisions.
This design was intended to protect us from the wayward politician, but it also boxes us in to a system that does not have the capacity to keep pace with the enormous social, financial and technological growth of today's world.
While technology progresses at the speed of light, our political systems move as slow as a snail. Coupled with the circus antics of our constantly bickering politicians, it is no wonder that the people are constantly frustrated with their national leaders.
When I vote for my political representatives, I do not expect them to come back a year later empty-handed. I expect to see that they have accomplished something of consequence with my investment of trust and taxes. If they have not, you can bet your bottom dollar that they will not get my vote the next time around.
Which brings us back to Guyana. Why is it that year after year the PPP and PNC accomplish nothing of consequence for the country, yet they get voted back into office at the next election?
I will make a very difficult confession. I voted for George W. Bush in 2000. I know, I know – but I really fell for his good ol' boy routine. However, after he invaded Iraq for no reason, there was no way I planned to vote for him in 2004 – and I did not.
That is the beauty of democracy. I have a choice. I fired George W. Bush in 2004. It's just too bad that there were more Americans who thought he was justified in an unprovoked attack against another nation than those of us who knew better.
The people of Guyana have a choice as well. When your politicians are behaving like they are the ones who make the decisions instead of the people, you can vote for someone who has a better grip on reality.
When your representatives produce nothing in a whole year, don't you wonder what on earth they have been doing with their time and your money? That is when you should be looking for a better representative.
And when your President is says all the right words, but produces nothing of consequence for the nation – then it is time to fire him and hire someone who can get some good things done for the country.
How do you fire a President? Why in the voting booth, of course.