Irrespective of the argument we make for or against politicians, the debate always leads us back to examine the personalities who, at some point, stood outside of the political sphere merely observing, then tactfully strategizing and eventually choosing to offer themselves as public servants.
Somehow, the story of our politicians is really the story of us.
The Right Honourable Dr. Denzil Llewellyn Douglas proudly leads the 80-year old Labour party, having been resoundingly elected to serve as leader of that party prior to the general elections of July 1995. His long political career, with all of its successes and failures, will be forever etched in the federation’s history books.
The popular leader was born in the village of St. Paul’s where poverty was not unheard of. By all accounts, his childhood was a pleasant one and he aspired early on to attain success in his every pursuit. His hard work would put him at the doors of the University of the West Indies, one of the Caribbean’s most esteemed institutions of higher learning, from which he would graduate as a trained medical doctor.
Along the way, the successful doctor parented two brilliant children, dabbled in several business ventures and all the while, kept his eyes on an interesting prize; that of becoming the federation’s second Prime Minister.
Denzil Douglas would realize his dream in July of 1995, becoming the first Prime Minister from the village of St. Pauls and the second leader of the federation of St. Kitts and Nevis from that same village, walking boldly in the footsteps of the nation’s first St. Pauls born Premier, Mr. Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw.
In a matter of four terms, Denzil Douglas has accomplished much. He has amassed considerable wealth and he has earned himself near iconic recognition, which is glorified by some and shunned by many.
The love-hate relationship between Douglas and the electorate is found somewhere in the respect for a young, seemingly humble man who, despite his impoverished state, overcame countless odds to head up an entire nation and that very same man whose leadership style raises eyebrows from those who both support and oppose him.
Denzil Llewellyn Douglas, from commoner to leader of a nation, is the story about us.
Lindsay Fitzpatrick Grant may not have been born into poverty but difficult times did not escape him. His father served some of the most impoverished communities on St. Kitts.
Grant likely had an obvious vantage point from which to observe hard life and to understand what it meant.
An entrepreneur by profession, Lindsay’s father would heavily influence and shape his son’s life, successfully running a business, reinventing himself time and again and providing for his family, all while serving his community and its environs as the renowned “egg man”.
It was at the prestigious Harvard Law School that Lindsay Grant would attain academic excellence; crowning his string of laudable educational accomplishments.
Grant joined the cadre of attorneys in the federation and the region, working alongside many legal luminaries and eventually opening his practice, proving his ability to command the leadership of a very successful law firm. He has two sons, a beautiful wife and a host of family and friends who continue to support his business and political career.
Lindsay Grant’s interest in public office was solidified once he was elected to replace the federation’s first Prime Minister, the right honourable Dr. Kennedy Alphonse Simmonds, as leader of the PAM. Grant ran unsuccessfully for public office in 2004 and again in 2010.
Near success at the polls in the face of many known and alleged irregularities with the electoral system may well be one of the many reasons Lindsay Grant proffers for not voluntarily stepping aside from leading the PAM. Like our current Prime Minister, Lindsay Grant believes he has a duty to “serve” the electorate and until or unless the people of his party remove him, he has no intentions to step aside.
The tale of Lindsay Grant’s error in judgment at the Marriott hotel is one that casts a shadow of doubt in the minds of the people, supporters and opponents alike. It is not that he is infallible; it is that people’s expectations of him were crushed.
Meanwhile, our right honourable Prime Minister has not always acted honourably during his seventeen-year tenure as leader of the federation. The tale of his tongue-lashing, bare-faced mistruths, raw sarcasm, and sometimes demeaning disposition during public discourse is no longer a novelty.
The tale of these two leaders has somehow evolved into the story of us: the story of the people. What is it we stand for and what principles define us? In our imperfect world where we arduously strive for perfection, can we really look to our leaders to be beacons of hope for our nation? Are they the real game changers or is it in fact the people?
As we approach the two and a half year mark before the next constitutionally due election, what is it these two leaders see in themselves that warrants the people’s support? What leadership characteristics do the “people” see in them?
Whatever thoughts we may have of our leaders; whatever are our views on the characteristics that should embody good governance, maybe we ought to take a closer look at ourselves first.
Maybe the introspection ought to begin with us; the everyday citizens whose hopes and dreams for a truly prosperity filled St. Kitts and Nevis are somehow linked to the decision makers we elect to public office.
The tale of our leaders will forever be the story about us.