Lack of Moral Authority: The Plague of Jamaican Politics

Posted: September 17, 2012 in Politics/Current affairs

A question I have often asked myself is: what is wrong with Jamaican Politics? The follow up question would probably be why is it that I could never truly see myself as an active participant in Jamaican politics, or at least not under the banner of the two political juggernauts that have a strangle hold on political life in Jamaica. Several possible answers spring to mind and each holds sway with me at different times. The simplest answer is political tribalism. If one understands that term then no explanation is necessary why it could fully turn me off the two major parties. But often times the simple answer is not the most poignant.

Upon close examination and by the simple act of listening to our politicians speak via the new s everyday I think (for now at least) that the single, most disturbing reality of our political life and discourse as represented by the two major political parties is THE ABSENCE OF ANY CLEAR ENTITY WITH MORAL AUTHORITY.

Moral authority can be defined in several ways but the following view of it has found favour with me :Moral authority is having the personal credibility with your target group that makes your words persuasive to them. A person has moral authority if their personal character is not at variance with the message they are trying to convey to others, in layman’s terms one who practices what he/she preaches.

As the title of this post suggests I am firmly of the opinion that moral authority is virtually absent from the discussions between the these political parties. There are a litany of examples that show that really and truly the person that comes out with self righteous statements to score cheap political points is often the owner of equal skeletons that are not even hidden in a closet.

Its okay for one party to lambaste the other for its connection to the mother of all garrisons,  but how serious do we take that message when the other party has been empirically proven to be linked with more garrison constituencies than the party they sought to lambaste.

Its okay for the political opposition to come out and chastise the government of the day for taking a questionable gift form a large multinational corporation, but can we take that message seriously when one of your MPs at the same time, in fact a junior minister at the time is found to have been receiving similar gifts.

When I am in opposition, I clamour for all the details of IMF discussions to be out in the public domain because we are all for transparency. But when I am in government I really cant discuss private matters in public like that. In the same role reversal the initial secretive party is now clamouring for transparency.

Also it is OK for me to proclaim bitter medicine on the horizon as government but lament in opposition how times hard. But at the same time can I be sorry for a government who labelled that bitter medicine government at that time as uncaring? Does it mean they themselves are now uncaring?

Confusing isn’t it? One big cycle of confusion and hypocrisy blights our political process. As I have said in other settings at the end of the day “Jamaican politics is a well rehearsed play where the roles of antagonist and protagonist simply shift with every change of government.”

But if that is the case, who do we trust? who do we turn to when we want real substantive and credible information and discourse on how we move forward in Jamaica Land we Love. That is the question and I suggest it is impossible for us as a nation to move forward with this state of affairs. So what do we do? do we see a crop of young politicians emerging that will revolutionise “showa” and “powa” in a positive direction? Recent happenings suggest both yes and no could be answers to this question but I am not feeling so hopeful especially listening to the leaders of both major parties in recent days.

Often times politicians make very valid statements but even still more persons reach for the remote control or dial to change or mute them.Why? Chances are it is the messenger and not the message due to this chronic lack of moral authority. This cannot be the environment in which development can be nurtured. Next blog post may need to be entitled THE CASE FOR THIRD PARTIES IN JAMAICA.

Food for thought!!!!!!

  1. Alberto Di Stefensi says:

    “Jamaican politics is a well rehearsed play where the roles of antagonist and protagonist simply shift with every change of government.” An appropriate way to describe the “relationship” between the two dominant political parties.

    It does not help whereby the central ideologies and values of each party have been blurred in recent times.

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