Sat | Mar 17, 2018

Letter of the Day | Age and political leaders

Published:Thursday | December 8, 2016 | 12:00 AM


I find it rather disturbing and shallow when people mention age as a determinant when considering individuals for political leadership. The age of an individual is important to an extent, because the political arena requires vibrancy and energy, but more focus should be placed on the individuals' passion for service, ideology, credibility and approach to governance. Jamaica has suddenly become fixated on aspirants' ages, and have been yearning for younger person to be in leadership positions. I have no issue with this, but I believe our cry is misplaced; our cry should be for new ideas and even know faces, but not simply faces that are younger, but voices that aren't saying what a politician is supposed to say. A voice telling our nation the truth about or current situation, what needs to be done to improve that situation, and what needs to be done to sustain our improvement when it comes. We have allowed the media to shift our focus and force our minds to think about small issues, while the bigger issue is neglected.

Let's look at the recently-concluded US presidential elections.Both candidates were older than the outgoing president. However, no emphasis was placed on the age of the candidates; people were more interested in hearing about the individuals, credibility, track record and previously supported bills or ideas. The US elections are not perfect and the US society is certainly far from perfect, but they are miles ahead of us here in Jamaica. The citizens of the United states and other first world countries demand more from their leaders, and if they don't receive it, there are dire consequences which no politician wishes to pay. The age of a politician hardly comes it to questions, politicians are judged based on more controllable characteristics and behaviour.




This is the direction in which we should be heading, can anyone provide proof that a leader that is under the age of 40, is likely to perform better than one over the age of 60? Is it not possible that an older leader has more refreshing and unique ideas than a younger counterpart? Is it not true that experience is one of the best teachers? And an older person is more experience than a younger person in most cases.

Let's us not buy into the stupidity that some are selling; let's raise our awareness and shift our attention to issues that are important and must be immensely considered when tasked with the duty of selecting a leader. I wholeheartedly agree that some of our political veterans have failed us and must go immediately, but their failure has nothing to do with their age. We also have young politicians whom have failed us and also must go, and their failure isn't always as a result of their youthfulness. This goes to show that an individual's capability to lead in most cases has little or almost nothing to do with their age.

Garth Thompson