Jaevion Nelson, Guest Columnist
There's a very distasteful display of leadership in Jamaica. One would think that those elected and appointed to govern our country would respond to waning confidence in their ability to perform adequately. The hegemonic vulgarity in Parliament, at political rallies and state functions, among other platforms, is irresponsible and disrespectful. If this could spur economic growth, we would be in the BRIC league by now.
Many Jamaicans, particularly those who aren't diehard supporters of a political party/personality, desperately await the day when political players present themselves as mature, disciplined and serious about safeguarding our rights, peace and security, well-being and livelihoods.
We, the people, take too much blame for the destitute situation we are in, and we are too eager to absolve leaders of their responsibilities and contribution to it. We should not be flattering members of parliament for the amount of blame they can direct to their opponents, and we should not allow them to give us one pathological excuse after the other.
We need mature leaders
Our leaders campaigned eagerly, and begged for our trust in their ability to make lives better. At this critical time in our history, we need politicians who lead, not curse at every opportunity. That isn't what politics should be about, and certainly not what our democracy should engender.
It seems that we need to school politicians on how to divorce their (often crass) campaign persona while also empowering them to act as leaders when in office. There ought to be capacity-building workshops for our leaders to understand their respective roles and the functions of each arm of government.
Our leaders are always walking the walk and talking the talk overseas, yet here at home we get the opposite. One of the best and most recent examples of this difference in personalities here and abroad is Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller at the United Nations General Assembly.
Not many would have heard the excellent presentation the prime minister gave. I sat in awe and admiration as I watched her address the world on climate change, economic and social issues in Jamaica, as well as chiming in on important issues related to foreign affairs.
This could not have been the same person who was haranguing in Parliament during her 'tun up di ting'-laced Budget presentation. Note, I have no issues with the use of our language in Parliament; however, there is something to be said about the appropriateness of phrases. Nevertheless, I thought this is the composure I desire from my prime minister.
More recently, the prime minister addressed an audience in Canada about the economic situation in Jamaica. She was most stateswomanlike, saying the previous administration had to confront with a plethora of global challenges.
In contrast, in an interview with local media on her return, the prime minister was particularly aggressive as she lambasted her predecessor for having talked his way out of office. In fact, she even added that she didn't want to be partisan abroad. Perhaps being partisan is her default position at home. Whatever the case, her reasoning is troubling.
This is subpar politics and governance. Have our leaders thought about what message this kind of display sends to us? In business, underperforming employees are frequently demoted or stripped of their duties. Although businesses and countries cannot be governed the same way, some business rules ought to be applied to political governance.
We have to commit ourselves to do better if we are truly a nation on a mission. The status quo does us no good; it makes a mockery of Vision 2030.
The truth is, if we are to progress as a nation, we need leaders who are honest, decisive, responsible and mature. We need constituents who are bold enough to speak about the economic and social injustices they face. We need people who are willing to show that Jamaicans are far more aware and educated that we were several years ago. We need those persons, especially young people, who do not vote to take an interest in politics and exercise their franchise in the next election.
If everyone is so consumed in a selfish agenda and resigns as constituents and political leaders, I can't help but wonder who really cares. I am overwhelmed with all the banter from people, especially politicians, who ought to do better.
I shouldn't always be veering towards America or the United Kingdom for political inspiration. Why can't our leaders abandon the most elementary and banal form of politics and speak to us in a way that we can be as delighted as we are when Barack Obama addresses America?
Jaevion Nelson is a youth development, human rights and HIV advocate. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.