I don't know where to start — Everald Warmington's ill-educated gaffe about Opposition Leader Mark Golding being too light-skinned to be prime minister; the hypocrisy of the People's National Party (PNP) when Lothan Cousins made a similar gaffe about black people only voting for the PNP and that anyone who does vote for the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) is a "confused Comrade"; the lack of an Impeachment Bill or code of conduct or any rules for these cowboy politicians; or one of Robert Montague's remarks about "shielding" Prime Minister Andrew Holness from criticism, which is less talked about than the rantings of Warmington but a bit more concerning.
His speech at the Area One Council meeting about shielding the prime minister from criticism seems to fly right in the face of one of the core tenets of democracy — criticism. The best feedback a leader can get is to know that something is wrong and needs to be fixed. And it is hard to pretend that everything is rosy in Jamaica. While some critics will just be critics for the sake of criticism, a fair majority of critics have valid points that ought to be noted should we want to move beyond our problems, such as crime and corruption, which feeds into each other; an economy that pays in meagre amounts of devalued Jamaican dollars because of declining labour productivity and tells you to buy imported food at US-dollar rates; a country where the middle class has all but faded; a demotivated labour force, resulting in the country being ranked as having the second-highest human capital flight in the world; among other factors that cause Jamaica to be teetering on the brink of looking like Haiti, Venezuela, or other places we wouldn't want to visit.
With this development and other observations I had highlighted previously in this space, the very question of Jamaica being a fully functional or flawed democracy is once again in the spotlight. Should I call Russia, where President Vladimir Putin has no term limits (other than the one he set for himself) and is coddled by yes men with the only true opposition to him, Alexey Nalvany, in jail alongside protesters against the war in Ukraine, a fully functional democracy? Of course not. Prime Minister Holness has to remove a fair amount of his constitutional powers, write in term limits, free his Opposition, and lend an ear to critics to start looking like a real democratic leader. With that said, looking at our governance structures, we might be on a slippery slope if we're not careful. We should always remember that the Roman Republic didn't become the Roman Empire in a day and then fall the day after.
My only two statements are these. First of all, while I think that there are too many areas Prime Minister Holness needs to improve on to even make me consider voting in my life, he is no worse than the Opposition leader, or the long line of successive PNP and JLP administrations that have helped to bring Jamaica to what we see today (but even that is a low bar to set).
The final thing is that it may be convenient to use strongman politics, where the party rallies around the man, but if we go by the tales of former President Donald Trump and the Grand Old Republican Party, it is a cautionary tale that this type of politics only works so long as the strongman is popular and alive, which isn't a sustainable way to run a political party, much less a country with millions of diverse people who have their own needs, wants, and agendas, including those that differ from the party.