Not meaning to pat ourselves too firmly on the back, Barbados TODAY has added a rather useful tool to our website, www.barbadostoday.bb, which helps visitors to our platform keep track of the days, hours, even down the last second, to the general election on May 24.
Countdown clocks are a wonderful invention. There is such an air of expectancy and expectation generated by them. Imagine the great New Year’s Day parties around the world without the famous countdown!
The BT countdown clock creates its own expectancy, even as it serves as an excellent device for writers, journalists, students and ordinary voters who are interested in the upcoming poll. It does the math for us, and leaves no doubt how much time is left before one of the most anticipated elections in our post-independence history.
But this clock does something else. It tells us how much time is left before our lives return to normal, if what happens these days can be described as normal.
Gone are the days, it seems, when the politicking ended with the election and people returned to their everyday lives, being friends again, brothers and sisters again, parents and children again.
In today’s Barbados, the nauseating stench of political expediency appears to permeate our every being every day of the year. The talk shows, social media and even everyday conversation have become vehicles through which disciples of the political parties voraciously attack each other, our leaders, and even our institutions, sailing close to the edge of indecency – and sometimes falling over – because so many do not seem aware that there is an edge to begin with.
It is a migrainous practice that drags and wears away at our country, at the close-knit brotherly/sisterly society that our foreparents built, and at the morals and principles which we were taught.
Therefore, for many of us, the BT countdown clock reminds us that over the next 21 days and counting, we must reflect on all that we wish to put a lid on at the end of this election cycle.
We expect over the next three weeks to see politicians we have not seen for over five years, trying to become what they never were and never will be – people who are really concerned about us and our plight and not whether or not they are elected or re-elected.
We will encounter the once-every-five-years sight of career parliamentarians, their apostles, disciples and lieutenants, with promises of hampers or heavenly angels in hand, frantically trying to dig themselves, and us, out of the deep hole that they dug for us.
We will be inundated with all sorts of promises and vows to magically transform us from famine to feast in one parliamentary term.
And somehow, we are expected to believe them, to accept that what they promise will come true. It’s voodoo politics in the flesh.
We accept that too much cynicism comes with little reward. But we have to be guarded, and realistic, and smart.
We want a Government that understands the public mood, that feels what we feel, that winches in pain when we are hurt; a Government that is thoughtful and decisive. We need a Government with a coherent policy and an attainable programme. In a sentence, we need people with the right skills, great vision, a high level of efficiency and a good dose of empathy.
We also need a Government that does not only ask voters to take responsibility for our own destiny, but will also demonstrate that they are responsible; one that is aware enough and responsible enough and dedicated enough to realize when things are not working, and to do something about it, not blame others while loitering in a dissociated trance.
A Government that will ensure that we do not sink into the moral abyss; one that will hold fast to those traditional values that have grounded us, which we still hold dear.
When the BT countdown clock hits zero and polling day is over, we want the newly elected administration to get on with the business of taking care of us and our country.
We also must end the perpetual campaigning, the belatedly accepted norm of politics guiding our every decision, every day of the week; and the thinking that the colour of our clothing – red or blue and yellow – is more important that our biological or religious bonds; where everything is seen through political eyes, tainted by the party we support, not driven by the commonsense we expect.
Our every action today suggests we have lost our way, or, at best, we are losing our way.
The countdown clock, with its air of expectancy, allows us an opportunity to grab hold of ourselves and work our way back to becoming a sensible country again, one where the kleptocrats and the kakistocrats are replaced by social democrats who care first and foremost about us, where politics is about people, not just a profession with the politician’s only goal being to be re-elected.
Maybe we are dreaming, but then, it may be all we have left. A dream.