THE PASSING STORM Two weeks ago a storm erupted on the airwaves. One Tuesday morning people from all walks of life, from every corner of the Hemisphere, from various corners of Europe and Asia woke from their morning slumber in anticipation of their regular early morning commentary from St. Kitts, via Radio Station Winn FM 98.9. It was a quiet storm but it reverberated across the globe as its echoes rolled from soul to soul around the world. Friends called friends to enquire what could be the matter with the program they had become hooked to. “What happen to ASK WASHIE?”was the cry of concerned frustration at the non-delivery of the program to which many had learnt to listen. Some time last year my young friend, Carlton Dupont invited me to give a commentary on his show The Dupont Experience. I have known Dupont for a few years, well past ten. The first time I met him I got the impression that he was a good young man. It was he who introduced himself. We were both in a line at Gilley’s Chicken Place, waiting to be served. He said hello and told me he had heard that I was doing something with youths. I explained that Project Strong was trying to keep youth off the street to keep them out of trouble with the law and train them in skills which they could market. He was impressed with the idea and proffered his support, asking me to call on him for whatever help I needed. I called on him soon for help to train a lad in the jewelry trade. It did not work. The lad was not interested. It was a long time after before I spoke with him again this time it was to ask for some galvanize sheets to roof the new facility at Taylors. Without hesitation he responded and when I wanted some 2x6s, again he wrote a check without a murmur. I was too embarrassed to ask him for anything else but this did not stop him from volunteering his generosity. When he asked me to do a commentary on his radio program, I was all too willing to accept. I like to talk on radio. That’s my weakness. The only time I never refuse an invitation to speak is when it is on radio. So apart from my obligation to return one good turn for another, I was drawn to respond, by the opportunity to hit the air waves. I hardly ever hear the content of the part of his show which precedes the ASK WASHIE segment, because my segment begins at 5am and I go to sleep at 1pm, but on one or two occasions, I heard the music and humor and got the impression that The Dupont Experience was a popular show. My show was more serious. It dealt with serious issues, touching the well-being of my fellow Kittitians and the style of government under which we live. I was glad for the exposure to the airwaves. For many years I have written in the newspapers. I have attacked the various administrations which have governed this country including that of Robert Bradshaw. I have been uncompromising and direct with my criticism. I have of course avoided defaming any of the people I write about and when I have anything bad to say about anybody, I always ensure that I have documentary evidence to fall back on in case they protest in any way. The most recent target of my criticism is the Prime Minister. I take umbrage with his style of governance. I have studied and taught Government and Politics and so I understand something about democracy and its opposing systems. I believe in democracy. I believe that all men are created equal and that all men deserve a level playing field on which to run their lives. I am against the monarchy, that dreadful system in which the ruler claims Divine Right including the right to dispense patronage on his subjects. I am also against the watered down version of the monarchical system under which the monarch designates one of his most loyal subjects to rule in his stead and dispense patronage in his name. It follows that I don’t believe in the system which prevails in St. Kitts and Nevis. Despite all that it is posited to be, this system is a hangover from the monarchy and lends itself to abuse by anyone who is entrusted to manage it. Any holder of the post of Prime Minister under our system poses a clear and present danger of becoming a tyrant in the name of the monarch. He can exercise an excessive amount of power and if he is unscrupulous, he can be a monster. I am afraid of prime ministers, not just Dr. Denzil Douglas. Indeed Dr. Douglas is irrelevant to my argument; he just happens to hold the post and I must therefore use him as an object lesson of the pitfalls of the post which he currently holds. My contention is not really about him, but about the office, whoever happens to hold it. I believe that the office of the Prime Minister carries too much power. No one office-holder in a so-called Democracy should be allowed to hold so much power to be used at his discretion. His power is frightful and regardless of his physical stature, he is capable of wielding power to raise or to fell anybody or any institution of whatever magnitude. This power is awesome; too much for one man; democracy is held to ransom by whoever holds this office. Those who have to live with him fear him. Some display their fear by keeping far out of his way. Others adulate and flatter him, always in fear that he might one day turn on them. That is not a nice system. This version of Democracy is like the Pigs who ruled the animal farm and took all kinds of privileges on the ground that they were more equal than the rest of the farm. I prefer the Republican system of Democracy. Here the ruler is nothing more that the chief servant. In its best version the ruler is saddled with a term limit and cannot go on indefinitely no matter how smart or brilliant he is. In a Republic, the people feel freer; I prefer a Republic. This position was what caused the quiet storm two weeks ago. The storm still rages.
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