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Elections in a time of Covid

 By Bumpy Walker

 

Elections are when politics is taken seriously by more people than normal.  Thus the contrarian in me stops taking it seriously.  Jamaica is lucky, over the years we have had many politicians who fundamentally believed in democracy.  This is despite the indications that boxes may have been stuffed, votes may have been bought and tragically too many lives have been ended as “we fight one another for the power and the glory”.

There is one occasion that deserves comment, the boycotted election of 83: this lead to the only “parliamentary sap” in Jamaica’s history.  How many strong man leaders from newly decolonised countries would have taken the opportunity to change the constitution, to gerrymander electoral rules, outlawed rivals to retain power?  Other Jamaicans recognised the danger: Frank Phipps gave a passionate speech that articulated the issue and recognised the danger.  Since then as a nation Jamaica has moved to correct the perceived cause of one major party not participating.  As a fan of parliamentary democracy this is praise worthy.  It gives president to our CARICOM cousins, the Bajans who now have a “parliamentary sap”.

Oh that is me being serious.  Let me stop there.  It is truths well known (therefore is probably wrong) that politics is no longer about ideology: it’s about personality. As a sexist male the term “personality” is dog whistle to mean perceived physical unattractiveness.  I too have a good personality! Using this as a template politically, “personality” led politics, is self-interest, based on our baser selfish needs. 

I still believe most MPs seek political office because they believe in national service. Thus to judge a politicians, I need to find something in their lives, non-partisan that intrigues or to identify with.  Think of it as a conversation ploy, something to engage with them personally should they unfortunately have to meet me.   Thus I prepared five case studies to demonstrate:

Case Study: Action Ann

One thing that came out on All Angles is the historic lack of female ministers.  I would add that there are simply not enough female MPs in Gordon House.   I find it disturbing that this gender imbalance is not openly discussed. My beloved St Elizabeth has four members of Parliament, all male.

“Action Annie” Vaz is a case in that illustrates this issue.  She attended Hampton High; I am told she is the first MP of to come out of this school.  Both Hampton and its brother school Munro recruits from the identical demographic.  If indeed Ms Vaz is the first MP who came from among Hampton’s alumni, this is disturbing.   Munro seems to have sent many a former alumni into Gordon House. I would like to have a discussion with Ms Vaz to get her perspective on this issue of political gender imbalance. 

Case Study: The Clarks Champion

I know most celebrated independence a year and a month before my birth. For me the moment when we achieved true independence was when Andrew Holness became the head of government.  His significance was that he was the first Prime Minister born post-independence.    It was a learning moment for me; the first ever Jamaican PM younger than me.  Thanks Andrew for the moment of self-actualisation of my mortality!

Mr Holness, like so many other Jamaicans, is passionate about education.  One personal fact on the PM I am aware of was he took a personally correct, but politically risky decision to home school his children for a time. 

What I really need to know is why he is such a passionate fan of Clarks shoes to the extent that he even gave an interview on BBC world Service praising this brand of foot wear.   

Case Study: Egg man

Say “The Dread “in a political context in Jamaica, one’s mind jumps to Damion Crawford.  Our nation’s first “locks man MP”.  There is still this reaction despite having Mr Terrelonge gracing parliament with his Nazarene hair. Unfortunately the Management of Kensington Primary might have made him trim before sitting, as I am told he is not a true Rasta.  (They do fear “junjo” in non-rasta locks). The Supreme Court would have supported them!

Damion does have an enviable multiplicity of skills: university lecturer, entrepreneur, community advocate, ex athlete, CXC tutor extraordinaire, op-ed writer and dance hall enthusiast.  I could expand the list further; but suspect every prospective candidate would be challenged to build an equally compelling biography.

I am intrigued and impressed that a Kingston born and raised man could identify that hotels have a daily need for eggs, and then start a business based on this idea.   I would love to dig into this with him.   I honestly hope that his business is still viable in this time of Covid. 

Case Study: The 12 Tribes Member

The first Rasta in Parliament was not “The Dread”.  It was Peter Phillips, though he had shorn his locks prior to politics.  I note an attractive trait of Peter Phillips; he tends not to use the title Doctor given that there are enough PhDs in parliament to “stone dwag”, that it strikes as a  positive differentiator. Like me, Peter Phillips loves to read for pleasure.  If I met the man, I would immediately start to discuss books we have read.  I need to know if he has read any of Lee Child’s  Jack Reacher novels!

Case Study: *SESA

The one person in Jamaica that gives us as a nation a sense of reverence it is Father Ho Lung.  I am a humble fan. The man is our Mother Teresa, the only Jamaican I would not object to being put up for a Nobel peace prize.  (I rate the good Father’s good works far superior to those of the Albanian nun).  Thus, to have Member of Parliament who perturbs him, vexes his soul, causes him to rail against the dying of morality, for walking on a beach, makes me smile. 

For me, Ms Hanna, the walker on the beach, is a mistress of self-reinventions equal to that of her party colleague, The Dread.  Minister, ex athlete, mother, author of an op-ed or two, social worker, university graduate, business woman and opposition spokesperson on foreign affairs, a role she has grown into.  She does give gravitas with reasoned, speeches equal to those given by the government.  I’m sure, given time; she like the dread would end world hunger and solve world peace if they put their mind to it.

As an incompletely,  yet to be reconstructed sexist during the last football World Cup Final I got into a social media argument on the attractiveness of world politicians. Naturally, for strictly nationalistic reasons, I defended Ms Hanna against the challenge of the wet tee-shirt wearing former President of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovi?. 

If I ever meet Ms Hanna, my conversation starter would not be of my abhorrence   of women’s beauty pageants or Father Ho Lung’s “talibaneque” tendencies. It would be on a video she posted on social media.  A deeply affected Ms Hanna described an accident on the newly opened highway, where she stopped and assisted.  She was clearly dismayed at the loss of limb and life, but she paused to comment on the reaction of the crowd.  Instead of helping, they filmed the encounter. She found this reaction disturbing.

My Election Wish List (Serious)

For this election the parties have produced their manifestos, which few people will bother to read in their entirety. I know I won’t! Clever, spiffy, marketing campaign slogans are being created to torture us with ear worms.  Promises are being and more than likely will not be totally fulfilled.  I have two basic wishes.  That there is no spike in Covid cases post-election.  I will judge prospective MPs on how their adherents behave.  If you are a true leader, yours is the responsibility.

Equally importantly, I would like both parties to make a commitment to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). Ok I have a third, ban vuvuzelas.  That is less likely to happen than the CCJ hope.  Both are low hanging fruit.

My “cousin,” the late Fidel Castro made a comment that he admired the Jamaican political system.  Fidel postulated that if Cuba had had Jamaica’s political system then his revolution would not have been necessary. Thus, if you are a Pro Fidelista, vote because your hero would want you to.  If you are anti Fidelista then vote to ensure there are no Fidels in Jamaica’s future.

 

*SESA: Sounds like a video game that my thirteen year old is addicted to!

 

 


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