Letters to the Editor

The ignorant should not be allowed to vote

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Print this page Email A Friend!

Dear Editor,

As in previous decades scholars and pundits are arguing that democracy is in a crisis. However, few people are adept at recommending policies to fix the perceived crises in democracy.

Yet, the problem may be that democracy actually needs to be reduced in scope in order for governance to be ameliorated.

Accountability and performance cannot be paramount in any political system where the views of all individuals are equally important. Jamaica, for example, is renowned for garrison politics; therefore, politicians are often forced to pander to populist sentiments.

In a hyper-partisan country like Jamaica it is nearly impossible to conduct policy without unnecessary political interference. The only way to improve the quality of governance in Jamaica, then, is to ensure that only serious people partake in politics.

When political leaders are accountable to enlightened individuals, then they will have to think long-term and implement policies in the best interests of the poor they claim to love.

One suggestion to enhance the standard of the political system would be to introduce voting requirements. Only owners of assets, employed people and educated people should be allowed to vote. These individuals require a highly functioning State to perform at an optimal level. As a result, they are less likely to support policies that are inimical to the development of the country. If any Administration goes rogue and expropriates wealth, capitalists and employees will probably be at a great disadvantage. Furthermore, under this scenario, it shall be difficult for educated, young people to secure employment with an anti-market Government at the helm.

Educated middle-and upper-class individuals in Jamaica do not play a great role in electoral politics; hence, the system is being undermined by political tribalists who vote based on sentiment and for favours. So invariably politicians do not have an incentive to perform or be accountable because the people who participate in politics lack the ability to assess their effectiveness. When those with a great stake in the country play a significant role in politics, then political leaders will have no option but to perform.

People who are ineligible to vote ought to pass a multiple choice test on governance if they want the franchise. Anyone who lacks the requirements to vote, but is serious about Jamaica's development, will study and pass the test.

The idea that every voice in a democracy should count is risible. Allowing people who are deficient in their understanding of governance and economic issues to vote will create impediments to growth. In addition, disallowing ignorant and tribal citizens from voting does not put them at a disadvantage in any way. Such a policy automatically results in these individuals becoming empowered, since they are not going to be voting for nonsensical policies.

Also, instituting voting requirements may destroy garrison politics, because several of the people residing in these areas may lack voting requirements. With politicians no longer beholden to pork-barrel politics, these people will have to break their dependence on the political system and become serious members of society. The franchise is quite serious, but even more imperative is the business of running a country, and we should not allow people without long-term vision to be influencing the system.

Lipton Matthews


Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive




1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

comments powered by Disqus



Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon