ALL AH WE IS ONE: Jack Warner’s public
In April 2013 when the ethical issues in Caribbean football forced Jack Warner out of his Cabinet post in the Trinidad and Tobago government and into his newly formed Independent Liberal Party, this column carried an article called Our Jack Warners (April 30, 2013), to warn the Caribbean people against the “the smug, dismissive stance of ‘this is Trinidad’”.
The article claimed that to reduce the Jack Warner episode to a Trinidad-specific problem would “result in political denial, missed learning opportunity and would be indicative of a dangerous selective blindness which enlarges the faults of others and diminishes our own”. It argued further that “there is a Jack Warner or two in every Caribbean parliament today, since we have all been shaped by the same historical forces”.
Finally, in making specific reference to the way in which Warner openly admitted to having unauthorised Caribbean persons pose as legitimate delegates in FIFA elections, the article made the assertion that “there are many Caribbean Jack Warners who, because of an underdeveloped ethical consciousness, would applaud the way his electoral end justified his unprincipled means”.
When these reflections had been given voice, Warner had not yet been re-elected and thus the public could claim no innocence in “not knowing what they voted for”. By their decision to re-elect Warner as an MP in an election which he contested in his own right and admittedly against some very steep odds, the Caribbean voter had proven themselves as equally responsible for the creation of “our Jack Warners” as any internal moral deficiencies in our Warners themselves.
Now that the FIFA scandal has become an issue of international criminal proportions, the Caribbean voters can hold themselves fully responsible for their part in the creation of the Warner scandal. Had he been a private citizen using his money to make a private nuisance of himself, no problem. But he was endorsed not once, but twice, and prior to his expulsion from the UNC, had been facilitated by official party organs to rise to the very sensitive and weighty post of Minister of National Security.
Amidst the FIFA scandal and all the public moralising which has been going on since the dramatic arrests in Zurich, what requires some deeper analysis is what has happened to Caribbean society that has made the voter so amenable to the Jack Warner types. As embarrassing as it is to admit, the only thing which made Warner electable, and which made him such a “formidable” politician, was his money.
In an age when there is an almost cynical dismissing of “ideas” by the successful politicians amongst us, they know that given the dire economic straits of the Caribbean public that “money can buy everything”, especially votes.
Given the cynical greed of the political class, only the people can save themselves.
Tennyson Joseph is a political scientist at the university of the west indies cave hill campus, specialising in regional affairs. email [email protected]