Political Defeat Aftermath In Jamaica
By D.R. Miller
An Eye Opener: On February 25, 2016, the nation of Jamaica went to their constituencies and voted. This election cycle looks like an was an insult to democracy when several reports confirmed that more than 50 percent of the people stayed home and thought would be business as usual on February 26, 2016.
It seemed tunnel vision took over the nation after years of hard campaigning, built on marginalized polls, frustration, and disengagement that have left thousands wondering how they missed the oncoming vehicle led by opposition leader, Andrew Holness. He rose to the top of the Jamaican Labour Party (JLP) after former prime minister Bruce Golding stepped down, to defeat now former prime minister, Portia Simpson-Miller, the first woman to lead Jamaica.
There are all sorts of analysis, motives, and partisan articles that followed this election. The interested rift that has emerged is not a new phenomenon in an elections aftermath. An election in general not only in the Caribbean has an inevitable word: “rethinking”.
The morning after pill always brings out nervousness, political bias, and intellectual transformation. Scholars will focus on how to explain the emphatic account, backlash, and irrelevance to avoid becoming non-consequential, and yes, many were stuck in a vacuum who only communicate with other who share their ideology, and even relegate to one’s own socio-economic class.
Today, from the hillside to the beaches, questions about who should be fired, fresh approach, hired, why, and the undoing; however, despite the parties’ strategies, it is time to work together for the better of the country. The political climate still has trustworthiness, un-favorability and it is paramount to blend these party colours now that this one is over.
Symptoms: Far too often, more money spent on campaigning than governance. Reflection is not a bad idea, but it has to erode complacency in which some politicians use a safe political zone and become disconnected. This diminishes the ability to connect with their community. This ranges from high crime, poverty, inflation, economic stagnation, corruption, distrust, erosion of the middle class, and the quiet generation gap that is often ahead on social change.
The communities cannot blame it all on politicians when they do not engage. Equally important, there is widespread dissatisfaction with leadership, political process and what their real roles are as elected officials and good public servants.
Both outgoing and incoming leaders have to take some of the responsibility on policies or lack thereof and credit where some progress has been made. However, all politics is local, and elections are not won based on new roads alone, or a few temporary jobs given weeks before an election or promises.
History has shown that low voter turnout benefits the opposition party. This is not to diminish the JLP victory. However, a vast amount of these self-reliant communities were disconnected and discouraged. This election was not won totally on the numbers that made it to the polling stations, but how much discouraged rain fell in the days leading up to voting.
Portia Simpson-Miller has beaten the odds and should be commended for her work despite some disagreements on her leadership style and policies. This is not a motivational speech although a few will need one to cope as Jamaica moves on to find a balance for its people.
I hope, despite this narrow victory, this election is one that moves people forward rather an operation built on payback for personal pleasure. This transition will be swift, and the opposing party will not have enough time to pack up their office supplies.
Case Study: Travelling along many these coastlines, it is evidence that landscapes are changing, and maybe one has to be the outside to see it.
“What is the colour of good governance after an election?”
It is a question I asked few weeks ago in an opinion piece: The only road to success is moving governance from the primary colours concept that do not mix well, but other colours need them.
Caribbean elections are not won on ideological differences. They are like bible studies from the Old to the New Testament. Sadly, interpretations only apply the other people in the church. Therefore, confirm seeing oneself as different. It does not solve anything, but tell us who you really are and shut out of the process.
Jamaica, and few other of these beautiful islands well before some of our parents migrated to other regions for a better life, politicians and their sidekicks are like a dynasty such as the Bushes or Clintons in America where for several decades one of these names has been on a presidential ballot.
It is no different where the king or queen ushers in a new season of old guards.
The Caribbean politicians run like a Supreme Court judge as if they have a lifetime appointment. Often this is the place where they become extremely wealthy and isolated. The ability to develop new ideas gets lost, where the younger generation sees only a corrupt institution, lack of accountability and incompetence.
Blame Game: Now who do you blame or praise for Jamaica’s People National Party defeat? Again, “It’s the economy, stupid,” which James Carville had coined as a strategy for former US president Bill Clinton’s successful presidential campaign.
Should Portia Simpson-Miller blame President Obama during his visit for not giving more aid? The ongoing crime problems, transparency, the country’s silent auction, and erosion from the sale of its land to foreign investments, missing ballot boxes, not enough payout to motivate voters to turn out, or the underestimation of Andrew Holness’ effectiveness as an opposition leader despite ongoing battles within his own party.
On the hand, she faced what I called “an elephant in the room”, where a chauvinistic attitude believed that her place and other women in these leadership roles should be in the kitchen.
Nevertheless, a new structural, social, economic, and political reform is needed and if one fails to do so, they too will be singing the blues as the People National Party. However, when majorities of these small communities stay hopeless, and would only vote if they were compensated, it is no more than the national debt that has choked the region.
Rethinking: These political calculations are not like many in the industrial world, conservative vs. liberal ideologies that could change the course of an election. These elections often are fought on what is in it for me and not the upward mobility of the nation in general.
Despite a softening on some social issues such as gay rights, and marriage equality, a majority of the population has not evolved. A simple vote can be cast on one’s ability to pick up a piece of yam or a chicken from the local store that evening before an election.
Jamaica and its leadership do not need to rebrand, but create more flexibility, and accept when something is not working. These structural problems cannot be solved with a loud microphone, lack of engagement, misguided polls or the amount of people showing up at a rally, and who has the best party song.
Finally, although most of us are not eligible to vote in these elections, we are forever linked and the preservation of ancestral roots is important. Sometimes a voice that hopes for the best is better than not showing up to vote. Again, I hope for the best because structural changes often take time to show their fruits.