Our bro­ken pol­i­tics

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY -

TTHE ED­I­TOR, Sir: HE WEST­MIN­STER sys­tem of gov­ern­ment that we adopted at In­de­pen­dence in 1962 is pred­i­cated on the no­tion that men and women of­fer them­selves for ser­vice to their coun­try as a way of giv­ing back to a na­tion that nur­tured them.

It pre­sup­posed that you would have achieved some level of suc­cess in your cho­sen vo­ca­tion. In other words, the in­ten­tion was not to make it your ca­reer, but sim­ply a way of giv­ing back. This is why it has al­ways been so easy for leg­is­la­tors in the United King­dom to step aside as soon as there is the slight­est hint of im­proper be­hav­iour un­der their watch. Af­ter all, they al­ways have their ca­reer to go back to.

Once we adopted the West­min­ster model in Ja­maica, we did what we al­ways do so well – pro­ceeded to bas­tardise it. Peo­ple who have never run any­thing in their lives en­ter the field of pol­i­tics to make it a ca­reer and get rich. In the process, we have wit­nessed the rou­tine cor­rup­tion of ev­ery known in­sti­tu­tion in the so­ci­ety. Sys­tems and laws are strate­gi­cally cre­ated with loop­holes so large that any crim­i­nal mind can pen­e­trate with the great­est ease.

Un­for­tu­nately, good and hon­est peo­ple from civil so­ci­ety have tra­di­tion­ally been cul­pa­ble be­cause of their dis­con­nected pos­ture with re­gard to this so­ci­ety. Many have their bodies in Ja­maica, but their minds in North Amer­ica or Bri­tain. And it doesn’t mat­ter that so many of them have never even been to these places. It is this very dis­con­nect­ed­ness that has en­abled the hus­tlers to take over the po­lit­i­cal process. I am old enough to re­mem­ber with fond­ness some fine politi­cians of the 1960s and ’70s, or even the 1980s. These were men and women for whom pol­i­tics was a no­ble way to serve their com­mu­ni­ties and, by ex­ten­sion, their coun­try.

SWAP­PING HUSTLER FOR HUSTLER

So many of them ex­ited the po­lit­i­cal land­scape poorer than they en­tered, but richer for the fact that they did serve their con­stituents with dis­tinc­tion and honour. It sad­dens me to say that, look­ing around at the present crop of politi­cians, I see few who re­mind me of this group of fine pub­lic ser­vants.

The time is fast ap­proach­ing when we should, as a fol­low­er­ship, put a stop to this pe­ri­odic feel-good façade called gen­eral elec­tions if all we are do­ing is swap­ping one group of hus­tlers for an­other. Se­ri­ous na­tion build­ing de­mands far more. In fact, it de­mands an en­light­ened fol­low­er­ship.

If we are go­ing to con­tinue with the West­min­ster sys­tem of gov­ern­ment, let us also take into con­sid­er­a­tion the spirit of its very ex­is­tence. CARL BLISS ca­b­liss54@gmail.com

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