The struggles of party vs self


The struggles of party vs self


Thursday, December 03, 2020

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COVID-19 and the Christmas holidays have been on many of our minds over the last few weeks, but what seems to be most discussed is the happenings in the Opposition People's National Party (PNP). While the drama and thrust interest me, what is most on my mind is what is fueling certain behaviours that have become synonymous with political leadership changes.

From the outside looking in, there seems to be a struggle for power and relevance, which is not uncommon on the Jamaican landscape. What baffles the mind is the clarity with which others can see the problems and possible solutions, but those embroiled in the drama continue marching down the road of damnation with gusto and surety.

In the early 2000s a German psychotherapeutic researcher, Klaus Grawe, developed The Consistency Theory. Grawe used the theory's model to outline basic needs as:

1) Attachment — which is a human reliance on others

2) Control/Orientation — through which we aim to attain perceptions that live up to our goals

3) Pleasure/Avoidance of Pain — which provides motivation to gain pleasant experiences or state of being

4) Self-Enhancement — which leads directly to the protection of self-esteem

Grawe posited that goal formation in life is developed to satisfy the four basic needs of all human beings.

The rumblings and gusto in the PNP make sense when the four basic needs are examined closely, especially the last three.

Politics opens doors and it can provide feelings that are sometimes likened to that of drug taking. From experience, I can attest to the fact that being on the campaign trail provides levels of high which cannot be explained in words. But, let us now imagine the high of politics coupled with the feelings of power which comes with leadership within one of two major political parties in a country. It takes a certain level of willpower to cast aside personal goals and ambitions to do what is best for the organisation. How many among us have that level of willpower?

The neuroscience behind Grawe's Consistency Theory helps to explain the behaviours being shown in secret, and in public, but the question remains as to why supposed leaders cannot find either the emotional intelligence or willpower to do what is best for the entity which they seek to represent.

Within the Jamaican political landscape there is no room now for third parties. Speak with Bruce Golding, Astor Black, or 'Apostle' Gilbert Edwards and they can further outline the impossibility of creating and sustaining a third party in this country. As such, each person who is part of a political party owes his or her popularity and personal success, in large part, to the party. No matter one's own sense of importance, relevance, or popularity, the reality is that everything goes through the window without alliance to one of the 'Big Two'.

If it is accepted that the party is bigger than any individual, why then is there not a commitment to protect the party, even if this results in a lessening of ambition and a need to put aside individual egos? The answer goes back to the basic needs of human beings, where we need to maintain positive perception, want to only have pleasant experiences, and have a need to protect our self-esteem. These factors drive behaviour more than we are often willing to acknowledge.

Natalie Campbell-Rodriques is a senator and development consultant with a focus on political inclusion, governance, gender, and Diaspora affairs. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or

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