by Walter Edey
This morning, November 6, the Brooklyn district where I live was quiet.
It was cool, with a blue sky, little traffic and one could hear every bird that flew by. The few pedestrians I met greeted me with the salutation: “Going to vote?”
When I reached the polling station – the basement of a neighbourhood school – there were no lines around the block, but inside the crowd was about 100 folks.
It was about a 45-minute wait before I reached one of the tables for district 2170. I gave my name and signed the register. I was given a ballot sheet and a registration card. I was not asked to show ID and after filling the ballot in an assigned private area, my vote became official when the electronic machine scanned my ballot.
“You are good to go,” said the clerk.
In the room, I heard a Bajan voice in the room, Colleen Blanks (her married name). By choice – religion – she did not vote. She had accompanied an elderly Trinidadian to the polling station.
On my way back home I ran into a neighbour, Anthony Greenidge, father of Andy of the defunct Folk Voices of Barbados, and, Wally Greenidge, a shipper. Anthony was in a wheelchair on his way to the polling station.
With my civic duty done, I took a few moments to reflect upon the elections as a whole. Frankly, I am not sure that this election will change the current recovery trend. For me, “I am right and you are wrong” is the type of process that only reinforces what already exists. It never rewrites history. It does not create space for growth.
In principle, the 2008 election was a historic event, in that the country elected for the first time a president who was black.
Now while many argue that this US election was about the economy, it was disjointed and there was a point when I became bored and burnt out.
It reminded me of the story of the man who lost his key in the dark but was looking for it in the light.
There was too much that was unsaid and what people believed, valued and experienced. With these filters in play, there was reinforcement of “what is” and no real new conversation to create a space for growth.
The late Errol Barrow understood and practised this art. He created and led the political conversation by the introduction of free secondary education and Independence. In both cases, the then Opposition, like the Republicans, was placed on the defensive and argued about paying for them among other things.
Peter Drucker once said: Every organisation must be prepared to abandon everything it does to survive the future.”
In this election the fact that the trend line for the growth was positive, albeit small, appears to get little support and the fact that people’s expectations were not about survival but what they did before.
On the street and in the polling station there was a sense that President Obama was going to win. But that perception does not underscore the fact that it might not be the wishes of the majority of Americans, but those living in the swing states – Ohio, Colorado, Florida, Virginia, New Hampshire and Nevada. If it is close, then Ohio will decide who will be the next president of the United States.
Sometimes I wish that the political intangibles could be quantified, that we could put a finger on the wave, the smile, the hug by a wife, running down the steps of a plane or to a podium, the playing of a game of pick-up basketball, the bully, the teacher, the prime minister who drives himself and much more. But that is what feeds the emotion, creates the uncertainty and makes it at times a sucker’s game.
In Barbados, some have already formed their opinions. My guess is that creates a 45-40 BLP/DLP split, which leaves 10 per cent of the population to be persuaded. For that reason the results of November 6 may turn out to be the wild card in March.