Politics, Politics, Politics NEAR & FAR!!!
By: Edward Harris

The longest flight comes to an end. The people have always decided and will continue to decide. The statement – “We the people” is of great significance in any democracy.

   Democracy can be considered to be alive and well within the English speaking Caribbean region. It is our democratic traditions that allow us to be at peace with our neighbours and the wider world which affords our states of the region to be considered a zone of peace.

   Because of our democratic freedom, elections are convened from time to time to elect governments by popular choice. It is a season of politics in many destinations of the free world. Those of us who have reasons to cherish the right to vote must encourage others to fully participate in the election process not only at home but also worldwide.

   If someone had told me in the 20th century that in the 21st century, steps would not have been taken by the local media to cover political campaigns within the region, I would have doubted the person. But here we are in a busy political season, we just move along with the media only reporting results of an election. The Antigua & Barbuda elections held on 23/3/04 is a case in point. There were lessons to be learnt from the campaign that led up to the elections. There should have been live broadcasts on election night featuring political scientists and other interested persons. Maybe a Caribbean link up is the answer at least for election night.

   As our governments seek to conclude an agreement on the CSME, our media should be at the heart of the political developments especially where new politicians are taking over governments, their positions should be on the table in relation to the implementation of the CSME. From the moment that a polling date is announced for territories within the region, journalists in each State should be reporting on developments leading up to the day of the elections and the final results.

   How much do we know of each other’s politics and politicians? What can we expect from the governments of other States? The time has come for our local media to do more to inform and educate our people politically. The Antigua & Barbuda election race should have been of interest to all citizens throughout the region.

   What do we know about the outgoing Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda? There are a number of things that the Lester Bird administration did that is worthy of note. He has been fearless in his approach and as a result harnessed billions for his nation. Take off shore financial services for example, he pioneered the sector in the independent States of the OECS. When he was well ahead in the game, the OECD came along and brought about some changes to the game. By then Prime Minister Hon. Lester Bird was smiling.    He shifted gear to online Casino Gaming and took control to the point that he challenged  the US Government to get off his case. Closer home, when he wanted to give his manufacturers a break, he imposed restrictions. When his business sector wanted to open up the market on imports he obliged regardless.

   Hon. Lester Bird was not afraid to break ranks to seek benefit for his country. He did not wait on CSME to open up his country to foreigners whether from Caricom or the wider Caribbean, he did what was best for his country. We cannot discount the benefits he earned for his country but the people decided that it was time for a change and democracy was once again tested. Democracy is alive and well in Antigua and Barbuda.

    I am really disappointed that election campaigns come and go and our people do not get to know the politicians of the region and what they represent. I am pleased to note that in recent times the print media have been publishing articles on business and other matters related to civil society.  The time has come to expand political coverage beyond the shores of St. Lucia.

   The United States of America is heating up politically. President Bush launched his Campaign last Saturday in Florida. Senator John Kerry is yet to choose his running mate. You have my position, Senator Hilary Clinton is the woman whose time has come, firstly to be Vice President for the next eight years and move up to the status of President in year nine. Senator John Kerry needs her as his V/P if he is going make it the white house as the 44th President. Any other person selected to be his running mate, I am prepared to predict a 2nd term for President George W. Bush.                     

   I indicated in a recent article that it will be a long hot political summer in the USA and those of us who seek to inform ourselves on the developments will have to spend long hours on the internet and listening to CNN, Fox News, BBC, CBS and other channels as we seek to get a fair and balanced picture of Elections – 2004. Last Sunday evening, Richard Clark former Security Advisor was interviewed on CBS – 60 Minutes and he took a shot at the current administration. The fall out from that story is interesting but it sure weakens the current debate on the side of the Republicans. Given the strength of incumbents, in a few days things will return to normal on the campaign trail. How do you counter negative campaign? It takes money to get the media and credible individuals to take a position on your side.

   President Bush has a great ally in Fox News, Bill Oreilly and company. It is going to be a nasty campaign even on the television – check Hannity and Colmes, it is so interesting to see Hannity loosing a point. Those of us who wish to be close up to the campaign can join either of the major campaigns at or  I sincerely believe that we can play a role in the campaign by influencing our relatives and friends in the USA to vote for the party that we believe is in our interest.  Our media can influence the Caribbean Diaspora to act in our best interest. Let us as journalist begin the task. I challenge you to join me and take a position. Don’t sit on the fence. The USA influences our lives and I feel obliged to influence as far as possible the outcome of the elections in November 2004. It is a good time to join the party of your choice and let your voice be heard.

   I am very nervous at developments in the Middle East. The assassination of the founder of Hammas is not a wise move at this time as any aggravation to the already complex situation could cause acceleration in terrorism. The Israelis have courted trouble for themselves and have implicated the USA. It is unfortunate that Israel is taking so much liberty and is now becoming an embarrassment to the USA. I guess the world is watching with great fear as to what can be the fall out in this recent development.

  It is truly a privilege to live in a zone of peace. Keep the faith!!! God is in charge!