Prepared for a life of sacrifice
G2K president enters representational politics
BY ANIKA RICHARDS Sunday Observer staff reporter email@example.com
ALTHOUGH he may not have envisioned himself as a caretaker for a constituency at 32 years old, newly elected Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) caretaker for South West St Elizabeth and president of Generation 2000 (G2K) Floyd Green has already learnt that it is a life of sacrifice and seems poised for the job at hand.
The attorney-at-law told the Jamaica Observer last Thursday that he had always intended to serve, but five years ago he had not seen himself in his current position.
"I had envisioned, at 32, that I would have a semblance of a family, that I would be moving to set up practice in St Elizabeth," shared Green. "To be honest, I am kind of on track, I have a son now. This (election) has even concretised my move to establish legal practice in St Elizabeth; it has always been a dream of mine."
Now that he is here, where does he see himself in another five years?
"In Parliament; I see my practice in St Elizabeth thriving; I see my family life being even more stable than it is now and my son doing well and helping me on the campaign trail from time to time," Green shared. "Five years from now I hope that we are under a JLP Government and as such the country will move in the right direction again. Other than that, maybe a junior minister and hopefully reaching to a stage where people believe again in politics.
"Maybe five years is not enough, but hopefully, at least in South West St Elizabeth, young people will have a different view, that young people won't see politicians as people who come around (at) election time and then go away and don't represent them."
The Munro College past student, who is from Junction, St Elizabeth, told the Sunday Observer that he vowed to himself that if he were ever to enter representational politics, it would have to be for St Elizabeth. He said as a young man he spent a lot of time in South West St Elizabeth, frequenting areas such as Black River and Treasure Beach.
"Not only do we have some of the best people in Jamaica and in the world, but I think I clearly understand the people of St Elizabeth and the type of representation they are looking for," Green explained.
So, after the JLP lost the general election in 2011, Green said he took a step back and asked himself if he had done enough to secure the future he wants for Jamaica. He said after completing his law degree in Barbados and returning to Jamaica, he got more involved in the work of G2K.
"In securing that future, for me, would be seeing the Labour Party in Government," Green explained. "Because I have seen, and I have come to the conclusion that, when the Labour Party is in Government, our country does better and more opportunities abound, especially for young people.
"And seeing them out of power, instead of getting despondent and giving up, I thought maybe we could do more, and when you recognise how many people didn't vote and the fact that a lot of those are young people, I said to myself 'I need to get more involved'," he continued.
That, he said, was one of the reasons that he pushed to become G2K president.
"After that, what I realised is that you can advocate a lot and you can do a lot of community service, and you can get young people involved, but will that ultimately lead to the Labour Party taking back Government?" he reasoned.
So, after doing some groundwork, Green competed against local businessman Rexington White, JLP councillor caretaker for the Black River Division, Dr Adeyni Bamidele, and businessman and former caretaker for East Kingston Peter Sangster in a constituency internal election last Sunday at Newell High School. He claimed 125 of the 214 votes polled.
Green now fills a weather-vane seat, one that was left vacant when Dr Christopher Tufton resigned in January 2014.
"I wouldn't say I always intended to enter representational politics, but I could see my life heading in that direction from an early age because I have always been passionate about service, even from Munro, whether it be the Science Club, the Student Council and then at UWI (University of the West Indies) I was in student guild politics at Mona, started at culture and entertainment chairperson and went up to vice-president," Green recalled. "And when I went to Barbados I served as president of the student guild."
Green implores young people to get directly involved in politics and told this newspaper that he hopes that by putting himself forward, others will be encouraged to move in the same direction.
"It is a lot of sacrifice, but ultimately, I think it's for the ones who mean well to do it," he said. "I think we can create change in Jamaica."
Asked to comment on the fact that a few young people, before him, have taken the same step he is now taking, Green said: "I don't think enough of us have got involved, especially probably at the same time, so you can pinpoint over the course of time young people stepping up, and I have found it is difficult; it has to be a movement of us.
"If you really mean well and if you really want to see good for the country, and you really want to see change and you want it to be better, then if you don't go into politics to make that change, who do you expect will take it up?
"And if all the good people stay away from politics, then who are we going to leave to lead us?" the attorney reasoned. "The reality is, we need more young people who mean well, who want to see a better Jamaica, coming together now and not putting it off, because when you have a coalition of the well-thinking, that is when you can really create change."
Admitting that he is not naive, Green explained further that getting directly involved in politics does not have to mean at the representational level. It could be behind the scenes, maybe as a campaign manager.
Green told the Sunday Observer that getting to this point was not without obstacles. There were days he considered throwing in the towel, especially when the reality of his limited financial resources hit home. But, he said, his support system at G2K and his strong family support, as well as meeting people in the constituency who have put their faith in him, gave him the drive to continue.
"It is difficult, and it does take a lot of time," Green shared. "I am reassured by the journey because at the end of the day, I saw people who put their faith in me, a person, and not what they brought, but just a belief that you have found somebody who can really help you make a difference."
Green was quick to point out that he chose the JLP because it was more in line with his thinking, his dreams and his aspirations. He shared that politics was never discussed in his household because both parents were aligned to opposite parties, so he had to do his own research before making a decision. He told the Sunday Observer that it was while attending UWI Mona that he decided that the Labour Party was for him.
"One of things I hope is that more young people will move away from the sort of tribalistic nature of our politics and the feeling that you almost feel bound to support the party that your parents supported," Green said. "The truth is, parties change; they are living, breathing organisations, depending on who is in charge, who makes up the officer corps, the viewpoint is different."
Green, who has three sisters, said he has seen changes among young people in terms of the "die-hearted mentality", but hopes that it will continue where young people will really search to find the party that they think best represents them.
On a few matters of national interest, the Munro old boy believes that hanging should be retained, but is not convinced it will reduce crime. He does believe that for some severe crimes, there should be the ultimate punishment -- hanging.
In relation to the buggery law and the issue of abortion, Green believes that both should go to the people for them to decide. He told this newspaper that both are tied to the moral fibre of the country and as such should be put to referendum.
Although he is not a fan of age limits, he does believe in term limits and that members of parliament should serve for three terms while prime ministers should serve for two to three terms. The young caretaker also wants the impeachment bill brought back and strengthened.
Telling the Sunday Observer that he is where he is because of education, which was a must since his mother is a teacher at BB Coke High School in Junction, Green believes that education is critical to change in Jamaica.
"I grew up in the country; did I think years ago that I would be here today? Probably not. But you know, as I got further along the education chain my opportunities just started to open up and a lot of networks started to open up, and you meet people and you start to dream bigger, and that is a direct result of education, in my mind," said Green. "I think that is one of the things I will always thank my parents for."
The attorney-at-law offered that "unless we get education right and at least have a basic level of education for all our people, we will have a difficulty".
"We will still have a political system that is not based on issues, but is based on political spoils," said the G2K president. "And that is what we need to move away from."
He also has several ideas for South West St Elizabeth, two of which are ensuring that secondary schools focus on skills training and tying young people to the needs of the marketplace, not only in Jamaica, but also abroad. He also hopes to reshape community groups, changing them from a youth club-type setting to being more business-oriented.
Green said transitioning into political service after so much time doing professional work takes some getting used to.
"It has been hard transitioning and understanding that people don't like you just because," Green said. "To be honest though, I have found so far that other than the rare occasion, once you conduct yourself in a certain manner, people will respect you.
"It is a life of sacrifice. I don't think at times we recognise how much sacrifice it takes, and there are times when you feel as if, you know, you wonder if the system is against you and you wonder if this is really what you are supposed to be doing," Green said. "Unfortunately, we don't have a political culture where people encourage you to go into politics, so if you talk to five persons, more than likely five of them are going to be saying 'what are you doing' and 'this is a bad idea'.
"I have found, being G2K president, sometimes it gets very rough but there are little things that remind you why you are doing what you are doing," Green said.