Editorial

The intoxicating aroma of politics

Sunday, March 10, 2019

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Politics has a way of bringing out the worst in people, especially those who become career politicians. There are some who remain exemplary, but the anecdotal evidence suggests that most become captives of its intoxicating aroma.

It is probable that most people who join political parties are well meaning at first, nationalists who want to serve the Jamaican people and contribute to the country's social and economic development. Those we applaud and celebrate.

But it is also clear that many enter formal party politics for their own social and material advancement. It is usually a matter of time before they expose their hidden intention by becoming self-serving individuals, often vulnerable to corruption.

Much too often, people who become members of political parties inevitably have their intellectual integrity compromised because they have to conform to the party's line on all issues, regardless of their own views.

With the exception of a few issues such as capital punishment, political parties in Jamaica have not allowed members of parliament to vote their conscience.

It's bad when the association with other seasoned party members leads to mental and philosophical inbreeding that can render them incapable of objectivity, where everything is viewed through the tinted lenses of party politics

Some members of the People's National Party (PNP) and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) can look at the same set of facts and come up with two completely different perspectives. Sometimes they cannot agree even on what are the facts.

Many politicians develop a state of mind in which they must oppose anything said by the opposing side, especially when they are the “Opposition”. Further, they often prefer to abuse and castigate the opposing party rather than debate issues.

The most recent outbreak of the political 'foot in mouth' disease was in the campaign in Portland Eastern that afflicted Senator Damion Crawford and Dr Dayton Campbell. We see examples of this lack of civility and decorum in the House of Representatives.

The desire to serve can give way to a state of mind of entitlement based on the oft-expressed view that they are doing so much for Jamaica that they are entitled to first class air travel, police security 24-7, and a large expensive SUV, not to mention exorbitant birthday parties.

A great many politicians develop an acute case of narcissism as they confuse providing the people of Jamaica with public information with their obsession with being seen in the media, ideally on a daily basis.

Communication arms and personnel are pressured to put out press releases and produce daily images, so many of which are not about something that has been accomplished but mere promises of things to come.

Moreover, there is the politician who develops hubris and feels he is an exception who is not obliged to obey the law. Indeed, it is discretionary to comply with what other citizens must do. The number of delinquent members of parliament who have not filed the required disclosures of their assets and taxes is clear proof.

Admittedly, we don't see an alternative to politics, which can be a noble endeavour when it does not corrode the character, integrity and conduct of well meaning people who join political parties to make a difference.


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