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The leadership issue

President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton fought a bitter, bruising battle in the democratic primaries in 2008. No one seeing that fight could ever imagine that the two of them could ever be anything but enemies for life.

Who could forget Hillary’s “Shame on you, Barack Obama!” or Obama’s “You are likeable, I suppose, Hillary” comment. And there was a lot worse than that from both sides.

When it was all over Obama won, and it was clear that both Hillary and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, were deeply wounded by the experience. Indeed, many of Hillary’s supporters remain opponents of President Obama to this day.

Many thought the rift between the two sides would be unbridgeable. Yet, the Clintons, much to their credit, came around and endorsed Obama in the presidential election. And, when he assumed the presidency, he asked Mrs. Clinton to be his Secretary of State.

What a Secretary of State she has turned out to be, and what a stellar relationship these two leaders now have!

The point is that leadership struggles are, by definition, bruising. The real test, however, is the ability of the contenders, after the fight is over, to work together for the good of the party and the advancement of country.

I know it is politically opportune for the Prime Minister and the DLP to try to make much of alleged notes or conversations with Owen Arthur and Mia Mottley at the height of their leadership struggle. But any such material is irrelevant at this stage because the leadership issue has been settled, at least for the time being.

That is how party politics work. People struggle for leadership and, if the “defeated” person is mature enough, they lick their wounds, accept the temporary setback and wait until another opportunity arises that may be more favourable to their cause.

In this regard, Mottley has shown remarkable common sense, character and poise. No wonder she continues to be so highly regarded among the electorate.

The DLP should perhaps give this issue a rest unless they can show any current discord between the Arthur and Mottley or among others in the party.

Perhaps after the election, both political parties should look at their leadership selection processes. There is no good reason why the grass roots members should not be the ones to elect the person they deem most suitable to be their political leader. Such a move toward democratisation might very well encourage more persons to participate in the political process.

— David Brathwaite

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