BY R.D. MILLER
The election bag:
Economic pressure, unanswered promises, growing or shrinking economy, high or low unemployment, climate change, economic mobility, stagnation, who is less or more corrupted- high, low crime, how many murdered under what party, prosperity, poverty, a widening gap between the have vs. have-nots, high or reduced taxes, COVID-19 Pandemic, accountability of funds, old-new manifesto, but who is accurately counting depending on one’s political side. These issues will be perceived through the political glass either half-full or empty.
Because of concern amid COVID-19, voters and party officials questioned the timing, but prime minister Andrew Holness of the Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) seized the moment observing favorable poll numbers called for an election hoping for another 4 years to extend and tackle what has been inside these communities’ socio-economic paint shop.
Once the election whistle blows, both leaders, players activated immediately on a non-stop color media bliss taunting progress or lack thereof. It seems COVID-19 social distancing took a back seat for national politics. Sadly, whatever circumstances, justification, rationalization, or excuses, bad things invariably follow if a nation’s life put in danger for personal gains
Whether Dr. Peter Phillips, the opposition leader of the (People National Party (PNP) agrees with the election call. It is a delicate balance asking locals who have been neglected to purchase another ticket. The reality is that both vessels with an upgraded soundtrack arguing better days are ahead while accusing the other are in the same murky water.
On September 3, 2020, the island of about three million people will decide to replace the locks or give back the keys and what party color will be draped for at least four more years as voters contemplate countless economic issues.
Is there a perfect color for Jamaica’s governance?
This election debates for changing the economic tires, refueling these communities, repairing broken parts to get one of these two drivers the winning flag may simply come down to what side telling the truth or to a greater degree better at covering up the truth as the island battle for its soul consistency looking good governance.
Jamaica local politics typically operates like a contact sport where only the fittest survive. After the political colorful game is over the economic strain will continue with injured community players sidelined from lost jobs to navigating students who may face distance learning in rural areas without resources.
The leader that will emerge, rebuilding will continue to be a challenge. COVID-19, economic stagnation, crime, poverty, and yes, COVID-19 Blame Game Is Going to Get Uglier as this pandemic in an election will ruthlessly be exploited at the cost of people’s lives.
The pandemic also provides a cushion to deflect the direct economic decline that has seen several local businesses closed, massive layoff as the service industry took a direct hit from reduced vacations which is a vital portion of the island GDP. But in all fairness, it has caused a global shutdown of the global economies, but it also exposed how fragile these shores were.
Today, likely voters are stuck between a rock and complex place. It may be from COVID_19 fear, easy access to polling stations for seniors, or from abandoned hope and trust may stay home. Jamaica will rise and can do better, but whose less tainted, or carries a permanent stain to continue navigating these ostentatious waters, roads, and hills.
An earlier Nationwide radio poll noted that about 64% believe that the Holness-administration is corrupted, but maybe better to manage corruption. This election continues to be about had they should have, could have, maybe, and perhaps, future and the past. However, this fight should be about the nation’s actual trade deficit, balance sheet, investments, and other key economic indicators for Jamaica’s actual values.
Will everyone enjoy the finished piece?
The reality is as it seems; one side blemished, other imperfect while the downtrodden constantly being squeezed from decades of promises, distrust, and inadequate management, lack of up upward mobility as many argued that only political leaders seem to be the exclusive ones getting ahead.
An incumbent tends to have an upper hand, and people may stick to the putrefaction because weeding through political tribalism is difficult and where governmental power is seldom based on real accomplishments, but personal time served in the cabinet and popularity.
This showdown may not come down to who won the debates; or command of what the nation’s needs are. The sole question communities should be asking during this political showdown, are they better off today, or foresee a future for the next generation. However, this election may come down to one issue, “safety,” which is a public health problem.
The missing color:
It seems, “Out of Many One People” get cast aside when voters are whipped into a desperate frenzy, pitting communities against each other for temporary feel-good while the youths, downtrodden, teachers, law enforcement, public safety in general, victims of crime, small businesses, and a vanished more educated middle class inside the body shop hoping someone fixes their dents from years of neglect and bumps.
After all colorful battles, these political parties should operate like primary colors where leaders can combine both sides to produce an excellent portrait. Continuous political fighting only makes it difficult to properly govern and paint a picture for a more promising future.
Jamaica’s prosperity is not the best beat on the street though it has its cultural significance; it is a single unemployed mother, dad, sons, daughters, cousins, grandparents, uncle on the hill debating if they should dance because after the music stops, what next??
“It seems that rhythms being played may change, but on same vinyl”, one argued. However, but not every dancer will have a new and better canvas for all to dance.
Notwithstanding the island has made some strides in maintaining the pandemic during the first few months, it ha to be honest with itself and open a genuine debate from managing COVID-19, Tests, Treatment, and Trace (TTT) will be critical from the reported uptick
Voting should be for the future, and not for temporary jobs or an overnight financial hand-out. In the long run, what about tuition, school supplies for your child’s education because you can’t announce an election to be compensated.
Hoping for a new blend:
One glowing new color is that based on local reports, more than a few women have entered this election on both sides and whoever is successful must demand a seat at the prime minister decision table.
Women, in general, are underrepresented, as well as in leading positions, whether, in elected offices, civil services, the private sector, or academia as scholars have noticed.
Fundamentally, this political election will not severely reduce COVID-19 the next day, reduce crime; create affordable education, better medical care, or new necessary equipment to save lives.
I hope after these colorful events, all people can find a combination of colors to positively renovate the nation as the region continues navigating the rough tides. It will take more than party devotion because this beautiful island to begin to see hope over fear, fact over fiction.
Jamaica is not perfect and remains a vibrant place with hope and possibilities, but people must seek change from the bottom up and not the other way around. Regardless of what color wins, the nation must deal with several ignored rusts that yarns for a new upward mobility pain for sustainable development; thereby, transforming the nation
An election is like art; it should create good memories. As this shore tries to pick an image for brighter days between this rock and hard place regardless of who has the next paintbrush, they must stay hopeful until everyone can genuinely enjoy these recycled portraits, add their own color for both the country and personal prosperity.