Thu | Nov 23, 2017

Editorial | If politics is noble

Published:Saturday | November 11, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Damion Crawford, the shadow minister for youth and culture, has not disclosed if he has since received invitations to any state-sponsored activities relating to National Youth Month, which still has a fortnight to go. That he hadn't up to the time of his public complaint last week can obviously be put down to oversight on the part of bureaucrats of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, exacerbated by the recency since September of Peter Phillips's shuffle of his shadow Cabinet and drafting Mr Crawford to the youth portfolio.

We expect that before the month is over, the senior minister with responsibility for the portfolio, Ruel Reid, will muster his most sonorous tones in advising the public that it was just as we had suspected: a wee error into which Mr Crawford read too much. All will be well, having, we expect Mr Reid to say, ended well.

Mr Crawford has logic on his side for wanting issues of youth to be placed among those beyond partisan consideration, for while the unemployment rate hovers at just above 11 per cent, it is around 25 per cent for those in the 20-24 age and over 13 per cent for those between 25 and 34. Further, more than 140,000 young people between 14 and 24 are neither in school nor in jobs the so-called unattached youth who are the prime candidates for recruitment to gangs and to antisocial behaviour. Add to these tens of thousands others up to the age of 34 who have long since opted out of the labour force and are not otherwise engaged in productive endeavours.

It is these cohorts that provide both the bulk of the victims and perpetrators of the more than 1,300 homicides in Jamaica so far this year and who remain most at risk from the country's epidemic of criminal violence, which the Holness administration has declared its commitment to reversing, of which the observation of Youth Month, with its theme of 'Substance over Hype', is part of the strategy.

Our interpretation of the theme includes a call to inclusiveness.

An appreciation of narrow partisanship tends mostly to be woven of hype, producing an unsustainable fabric. The best of all cloth comes from the best of all yarns.

That is why Damion Crawford is right that being able to participate in, and contribute to, Youth Month activities "in a meaningful way" doesn't translate to running a dual government.

It is in this context that we beg to differ with Mr Crawford's characterisation of politics as "a game" and as something distinct from, and less noble than, governance. He appeared to have accused those whose oversight left him off the invitation list of engaging in the former.

"The game of politics," Mr Crawford said, "is all about competition and one-upmanship, while the business of governance is about cooperation and collaboration for the greater good and national progress."

First, for those who would be transformative, politics is no game and it certainly is no farcical endeavour, pursued to get something over your opponent. The competition of politics is, at its best, the marketing of ideas, policies, and strategies as an early, but essential, element of governance.

The one can't be divorced from the other, and when practised as a whole, inspires nobility. It is when there is bifurcation that spokesmen may be overlooked; leaders can lie to their constituents, take their followers for granted, and, once in power, believe themselves not bound to their promises.