Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Dead Democracy: From The Ballot to The Streets

"A stable democracy" is often how those in leadership positions describe the current health of our politics and democracy, with no major shock waves in our system of governance over the last 3 decades since the ideological rift that formed during the years of Micheal Manley's lean towards democratic socialism clashing with Seaga's capitalist sentiments that received further push from outside forces. After this period, the word ideology became invalid and political activist reduced to squabble between grassroots supporters defending their respective parties, as the economy sank - the tight fiscal space narrowed our vision with only the  IMF and other global creditors in our sight.

As a millennial belonging to the 90's and having experience the birth and and super expansion of the Information age, there has been no substantial period for Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) as to compare governance records against the People's National Party's tenure. Hence the search for comparisons in this modern age would lead us youth, regionally and internationally to get an understanding of the level of governance that we should be expecting and encouraging through our public participation.

With the current situation in mind, I would like to suggest to will thinking Jamaicans that as for our democracy our vitals are flat lining  and for all intensive purposes we are a dead democracy.Lifeless from the ceremonial zombie-like walk to the ballots to fulfill our 'rights' to the bustling streets filled not with voices of protesters with a cause but with hustlers just trying to make a living without such concern for the process that controls how taxes are spent or the minimum your to be paid for a days work.

The Ballot 

We have been dead at the ballot boxes from the time our political parities decided to encourage 'area leader' mentality  that saw the creation of garrisons and safe seats that are manned by the die-hearts who swear upon their ancestors grave their bloods are either green or orange not red like our national heroes, 2 are accredited founder of these political parties. Even after the creation of the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) and Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) to ensure free and fare elections in all constituencies, the sanctity of votes are still being corrupted with the buying and selling of votes.

For those not considered die-hearts of any kind, they often make voting into a symbolic gesture to our ancestors who fought for suffrage, with little thought given to issues, because elections in Jamaica are about party and personalities not issues. Plaster a face on a sign with a slogan and you have yourself a campaign, although you may speak on topics - who is really listening? Not the die-hearts they are only concerned about their party winning, half the independent voters are tuned out until election day and the other half is the minority who decided to vote on issues but their numbers wont affect the outcome much - then there are those who don't not to vote because of apathy.

I can only compare our 5 year general election cycle to life support and with sprinklings of local government elections in between as minor brain activity. In the 2007, we showed a miraculous  sign of recovery that had a generous turnout including the youth that drastically dwindled in 2009 when Holness in tried to tap into the youth-phoria after Golding's quick departure under circumstances that left a immeasurable trust deficit.

We have lost the essence of being a voting and being voters.

The Street

The current Simpson-Miller led administration has demonstrated that we have slipped into collective coma as we shun our civil duty to keep our government accountable and transparent. There has been no end to the controversies  and contradictions that only inspired limited outcry hence got limited results from the Azan affair, NHT saga, Riverton fire mess and the Ms Haughton's unpunished nepotism. But the administration biggest mockery of our Westminster system was allowing a Cabinet Minister to pursue business with entities that cabinet itself decided not to do business with.

Yet, we 'articulate minority' have not found these blunders, so offensive to our sense of judgement that we would alight the streets with our concerns, discontent and disapproval. Are the silent streets a picture of deeper fear? A fear of being relinquished to doldrums of social mobility, where those without the proper surname, professions and nod of approval are placed for speaking out of turn prevented from moving upward - the creation of a classicist society.


This perception also consumes our universities and especially civil society groupings, many see these groups as only caring for those who pay their dues or make considerable donations. This idea that civil society, is only for the sophisticated  upper echelons of Jamaican society who can speaking the queens english when making representation is troublesome in a context such as Jamaica - where those who are most oppress belong to a lower socio-economic standing with perfect patios and sub standard english and education.

These issues reinforce in the minds of poor Jamaicans  that the system is too complicated for them to speak beyond localized matters such as bad roads and lack of water, they dare not venture into governance and constitutional reform out of ignorance - this vacuum leaves them powerless thus they place their entire trust in the political leadership to govern themselves and set their own standards.

The masses are out their waiting to galvanize around a single source of either strength, sacrifice or shock whether they know it or not. Who will inject the well needed adrenaline to get our civil blood pumping again?