Infantile politics endangers democracy

Monday, February 04, 2013

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PRIME Minister Portia Simpson Miller's inappropriate and extremely unfortunate reference to "enemy of the State" as she responded to criticisms from Opposition Leader Mr Andrew Holness underlines the mess we are in as a country.

Obviously, as our leaders themselves have pointed out from time to time when it suits them, the crises facing Jamaica on the economic and social fronts require all hands at the wheel working together to pull the country out of its problems.

Yet, the examples often set by our political leaders are in direct violation of the noble ambition to build a sustainably prosperous and sovereign nation.

The large blocks of party loyalists supporting the People's National Party and Jamaica Labour Party can hardly be expected to view the other side with anything but suspicion, even loathing, if their leaders resort to malicious, low verbal blows at every turn.

Mr Holness quite justifiably dismissed Mrs Simpson Miller's comment as "ridiculous" and sounded quite the statesman as he told the Observer Press Club "...I can't be reckless and make statements that could destabilise the markets for political gain. Should the country return to the Jamaica Labour Party we want it in a better state than we left it. We want to see this Government do well."

Then in an accompanying news story in yesterday's Sunday Observer, Mr Holness, in outlining his own vision for his party, makes the perfectly legitimate point that "To me, political power is meaningless unless it advances the country..."

He then throws statesmanship out the window by casting his own sharp barb at the PNP: "... what Jamaica is experiencing is a highly tuned political machinery that has no interest in advancing the country. It doesn't know how to; it was never built for that in the first place..."

Now, if Mr Holness really and truly believes that of the PNP, the society is in even deeper trouble than most of us would have imagined.

If Mr Holness truly believes that of the PNP, what, we wonder, do his followers, including the 'massive' at the base, believe?

Further, on hearing such a statement from the Opposition leader, what will the PNP and its 'massive' think of him and the JLP?

In the case of the Simpson Miller Administration, we are seeing where the prime minister and some of her Cabinet colleagues seem to believe that they are above criticism. So Mrs Simpson Miller, for instance — who claims she doesn't listen to, watch or read the news — arrogantly resorts to labelling her critics non-achievers.

It seems to this newspaper that our political leaders and political parties need to recognise that a growing segment of the Jamaican population already believe them to be a fundamental part of the problem. That's one big reason so many now refuse to vote at election time.

If our political parties and their leaders continue to behave like thoughtless children in the face of crisis, all of us will sooner or later have to conclude that indeed they cannot be part of the solution.

What prospects then for our much-vaunted democracy?




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