Is President Carmona Trinidad and Tobago's Hope?

Last week, Trinidad and Tobago swore in its fifth President, retired high court judge Anthony Carmona. The new president's inaugural address, in which he vowed to “[hold] fast to the fundamentals [of] integrity, Transparency, Inclusiveness and Reverence to God Almighty” captured the public's imagination – and that of a few bloggers – who have been talking about what effect, if any, the new presidency could have on the country's political landscape.

Plain Talk referred to the inauguration as “something remarkable, something totally unexpected”:

Hope roared across the land; and with the first few lines of his maiden speech to the Republic, its new President – His Excellency Anthony Carmona – grabbed everyone within ear shot and bowled them over – ‘The powers that you think I have, I do not; the powers that you think I do not have, I do.’ And just like that and with just those words Trinidad & Tobago came back to life, switch boards lit up, phone networks and text systems overloaded as people contacted each other to say ‘Hey, pay attention, something different is happening and you are going to want to hear this.’ Social networks became engulfed, people started talking, the energy became electric as the growing throngs on onlookers hung on every word he said.

He was right: Facebook and Twitter were active with commentary during the swearing-in. The blogger, Phillip Edward Alexander, continued:

It was was an equalizing moment, one that put each person's responsibility regardless of station in life, squarely at their feet.

Still, he was cautious:

Now it could be that the people (myself included) are so starved for calm, assertive, sensible sounding leadership that this well worded speech being delivered by a man believed to be honest and trustworthy was so much quenching waters for the parched ears of the thirty populace, but if ever there was a right place and a right time, then clearly…this was it.

So was diaspora blogger Jumbie's Watch, who posted an open letter to the new president:

You have successfully inspired a large cross-section of the country with your first speech – by using the most appropriate ‘sound bites’… but like many sound bites, yours can indeed be misleading. I say ‘can’ instead of ‘will’ because you are merely days into your term. However, your actions, or inactions, from now will prove your mettle.

I don’t envy you your task; you have an uphill battle to change a country mired in a morass of decay. You have become a leader in a country where deliberate infractions of minor laws like littering and parking, to billion dollar white collar corruption are routine, everyday happenings. How you intend to change a whole culture is beyond my imagination, but I wish you luck.

A Sterling Perspective also shared his perspective:

The President yesterday called for an ‘out of the box’ approach to the nation’s problems. He also said the nation is in crisis.

I can’t say that I don’t feel that his analysis is wrong as the indices that led to the conclusion may not be the only ones that should be considered. In his inaugural address, a histrionic call to action, Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona, spoke to issues that gauge governance. I have never felt that crime and unemployment were good measures of a society’s standing. He mentioned the former treading dangerously close to the political tenor that can embarrass a government.

All hands are needed on deck, he said, to save Trinidad and Tobago. It is inherently flawed as it is a top down approach. Really must I feel compelled to now consider how to reduce crime when all it seems to do is determine how good the state is managing our affairs? He reinforced this belief when he said that as a nation we are one: it means our goals are shared and too our responsibilities. We may be an independent nation but I am apparently not free to determine what it is I want to achieve.

Thinking about the speech I realised that this is what is wrong with my world, it assumes for me what is important, taking me away from what I feel is important. We count corpses in Trinidad and Tobago and no one counts the stifled souls, the snuffed dreams, the unrealised ambitions and the impossible that faces so many of us.

Meanwhile, Plain Talk wondered about the next step:

Where do we go from here? I have asked that question sarcastically or cynically so many times in the past, but this time I ask it with hope. I believe we need to give this man a tsunami of support upon which to build his message and hopefully, with a little bit of good luck and blessings from above, we may begin to see our way out of the mess that we're in.

Will he himself be able to live up to all of this? I do not know, but wouldn't it be just grand if he did? Wouldn't it be fantastic knowing that political leaders from all sides knew that there was someone else in authority who was not going to be taking the nonsense that has come to represent what has passed for governance in this country?

Sterling Henderson countered:

Everyone is saying that the President’s speech inspired hope. I peruse the social media sites like FB and twitter and see nothing but fit-to-print reactions that hail the address as what the country needs; I am left lost for comfort.

Plain Talk, however, remained audacious enough to hope that President Carmona just might be the change the country needs:

We have been searching for that magical something, that someone to unite us for so long, and whether or not Anthony Carmona possesses that spark only time will tell, but for this writer, tired of different flavors of more of the same…it was…refreshing…and for that, for bringing us back to hope I would like to say thank you Your Excellency Anthony Carmona, congratulations on your elevation, may you live to surpass all the hope we now have in you.

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