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Sunday, September 24, 2017

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” So goes the popular adage; one that cautions those who have been cheated to avoid falling victim a second time when dealing with the same person or situation.

Nobody likes to be made a fool. It imbues a sense of powerlessness at being taken advantage of and can even invoke feelings of betrayal if there’s a violation of trust and the intention involves malice or deception. While it’s an experience that no one wants to have, it’s usually a lesson that’s well-learned.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case here in T&T when it comes to the relationship between politicians and the public.

Time and time again, our elected officials disappoint us with their corruption and ineptitude and we, in turn, fail to hold them accountable.

It’s become such an accepted occurrence that they no longer seem to bother in coming up with believable lies and excuses. Yet they continue to count on and receive support from the party faithful.

Which means that we, the citizenry, are allowing ourselves to be taken for fools.

After two years in power, the performance of the Rowley-led PNM administration (or the lack thereof) is starting to look more and more like a manifestation of the before-mentioned adage.

Once again, the electorate has fallen for the same campaign trickery of false promises, only to end up trading in expectation for disappointment. Instead of dealing with the population’s increasing concerns over crime and the economy, this Government has clumsily barrelled its way from one faux pas to the next.

Of course, this state of affairs is nothing new, especially when compared to the cavalcade of scandals perpetrated by the previous administration.

But during the course of the last few months, a disturbing trend has started to take shape.

When confronted with allegations regarding political malfeasance, Dr Rowley, along with members of his Cabinet, offer what can only be described as misdirection and lacklustre explanations.

They have thus taken the concept of plausible deniability to new and aspiring heights of ridiculousness.

And despite being the head of the legislative arm of the Government, the prime minister would have us believe that he’s had no knowledge of what’s been going on.

At the last ‘Conversations with the Prime Minister’ meeting held in St Augustine (August 13, 2017), Dr Rowley once again touted the 2015 victory as a mandate given to him by the electorate to “…change the direction the country was going.” While this is in keeping with the strategy of blaming the UNC for any and everything, it couldn’t be used when his Government was recently caught with its pants down.

In response to these very public fiascos, the notoriously gruff Dr Rowley either tried to minimise things, as with the Le Hunt-citizenship issue; or claimed ignorance, as is the case with the ongoing ferry investigation.

Is he serious? I mean, IS HE REALLY SERIOUS? He’s even had the audacity to show contempt towards the media’s scrutiny; as if he shouldn’t be made to answer such“silly” questions.

That sort of posturing may appease the average “till ah ded” PNMite, but it’s looking like he doesn’t hold the rest of the country’s intelligence in high regard.

And worst yet–he doesn’t seem to care whether people believe him or not.

Dr Rowley can’t have it both ways. He can’t continue to portray himself as the answer to all our woes and then turn around and pretend to be an innocent bystander.

But beyond that—when are we as a country going to stop being taken for fools? We can’t have expectations for honesty and performance from our politicians if we fail to call them out.

The lies and cover-ups will only get worse, not only from this Government but for all governments to come.

Because the only thing worse than being fooled by someone else, is when we’re fooling ourselves.

Ryan Hadeed


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