What, re­ally, is re­newal?

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY -

THE ED­I­TOR, Sir:

‘RE­NEWAL’, LIKE ‘pros­per­ity’, has be­come the new po­lit­i­cal buzz­word of the day. It has been slid­ing on to key­boards, off the Lips of me­dia prac­ti­tion­ers, po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tors on so­cial me­dia, and the ar­tic­u­late mi­nor­ity for quite some time.

Re­newal was the chal­lenge that had been pre­sented to the Peo­ple’s Na­tional Party (PNP) fol­low­ing its loss at the polls on Fe­bru­ary 25. Re­newal, for some, was a missed op­por­tu­nity last Satur­day when the PNP lead­er­ship re­mained in the hands of sea­soned lead­ers, shut­ting out new­comer Lisa Hanna.

But what does re­newal truly mean? Why is it im­por­tant for young per­sons? And what does the lack of re­newal in po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship and ide­ol­ogy mean for the wider so­ci­ety?

While many PNP stal­warts are con­tent in blam­ing their sur­pris­ing elec­tion loss on the prom­ise of an in­crease in the in­come tax thresh­old to J$1.5 mil­lion, the un­com­fort­able truth is that their loss was more tied to their own folly than the machi­na­tions of the Ja­maica Labour Party.

It was pri­mar­ily the sense of en­ti­tle­ment of the PNP char­ac­terised by the de­ci­sion not to de­bate, the re­gur­gi­ta­tion of the 2011 man­i­festo, and the fo­cus on Hol­ness’ house, rather than plans to re-en­er­gise the econ­omy, that led to the down­fall of the PNP.

On Fe­bru­ary 25, even some of the party base de­serted them, re­sult­ing in a low voter turnout, dis­ad­van­tag­ing the in­cum­bent party – an un­likely oc­cur­rence po­lit­i­cally. Re­newal, in the con­text of this loss, refers to a re-ex­am­i­na­tion of the party and its ide­olo­gies and a gen­er­a­tion of new ideas, new ap­proaches and new strate­gies to breathe new life into the party. Re­newal is not a per­son, nor is it an age group.

Re­newal must in­volve the in­fu­sion of fresh blood and tal­ent within the po­lit­i­cal arena. We should com­mend those who have af­forded young per­sons who have grown up with dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ences, ideals and needs an op­por­tu­nity to be in­volved in po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship.

How­ever, re­newal is more than just al­low­ing ac­cess. There is noth­ing new about a taxi whose driver drives the same way even though he might have changed a wheel or two along the way. His style of driv­ing and his bad habits have re­mained the same, ir­re­spec­tive of the shiny new parts.

Re­newal is about giv­ing per­sons, young and old, an op­por­tu­nity to have in­de­pen­dent thought and say, rather than just to fall in line. There should be no pun­ish­ment for dis­sent, even open ones. Re­newal re­quires that those at the helm are able to ac­knowl­edge their fail­ings and are open to dif­fer­ent ways to ap­proach­ing crit­i­cal mat­ters.

Any po­lit­i­cal party that does not fa­cil­i­tate this kind of re­newal sti­fles the voice of the young and turns them away from en­gag­ing in pol­i­tics.

And who loses when our po­lit­i­cal par­ties are not in­fused with new voices? Whose lives are af­fected when our lead­ers, on both sides, do the same things re­peat­edly without stop­ping to re­con­sider? Whose na­tional de­vel­op­ment is stunted when only per­sons who ac­cept the tra­di­tional way of do­ing things are given po­lit­i­cal back­ing? I will give you hint – there are 2.7 mil­lion of them. GLENROY MUR­RAY Pol­icy & Ad­vo­cacy Man­ager Equal­ity for All Foun­da­tion

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