By Jaevion Nelson
The NATIONAL debt is now about $1.8 trillion. Unemployment is high. And so is crime and violence, which costs us over three per cent of GDP. The oil to run the jeep is expensive. Migration among our university graduates is in excess of 70 per cent. Many (recent) university graduates who remain in Jamaica barely earn enough to repay their student loans, buy food, and be able to travel to work daily. Many people are being paid $5,000 per week and can hardly support themselves and family. Some of them are forced to buy a slice of bread for $20 or rice and peas and gravy for $100, as sustenance. Many of us have to depend on remittances.
Sounds pretty awful, right? If you had the power, you would want to do something about this, right? The logistics hub can't come soon enough. Winter tourist arrivals better be good this year!
But guess what? While the vast majority of us are grappling with this frightening reality, there is no certainty that our issues are being addressed by the people entrusted to make our lives better.
How will this squabble about who has the 'winnability' factor to oust the People's National Party in the next general election achieve this? In essence, 'winnability' is about who can make the most noise, say the nicest things, and expose the Government as an incompetent incumbent that is unworthy of our 'X'. All this banter is unnecessary, if you ask me. Is
One would think it is sensible to not just talk about the fact that we are poor, that we live in fear of being murdered or robbed, that we can hardly afford the more nutritious food items on the supermarket shelves, and that chicken back is scarce. It wouldn't be such a bad thing if all of us try to make things happen. You do know that talk isn't action, right?
LOSING SIGHT OF PURPOSE
Not surprisingly, this excites too many of us too much. As if an election by itself can grow an economy. We become so obfuscated by campaign jingles and slogans that we seemingly forget the purpose of the people who seek to be elected.
To top it off, while we are in this difficult position, the more privileged among us started an online campaign to protest the delayed coverage of 'The Voice', an American talent competition, as a result of TVJ obtaining exclusive broadcast rights in Jamaica.
Apparently, we have all forgotten the role of the Opposition, as an important stakeholder in Parliament, in ensuring the good governance and development of people and country. The United Nations Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Global Parliamentary Report 2012 reminds us that "effective parliaments shape policies and laws which respond to the needs of citizens and support sustainable and equitable development". This duty is not the sole responsibility of one side of the House. We must remind all parliamentarians of this important fact.
Of course, political parties are about winning elections and I don't mind some fuss around that every so often, but this seemingly myopic understanding of our varied responsibilities is a bit frightening. I am in no way suggesting that there should be no elections; that is not my call. I do, however, wish to remind all parliamentarians that the fact that they have been elected to represent us - whether or not they are in Government - is a great responsibility.
If you think about it, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) could impress uncommitted voters if it uses its parliamentary privileges - however limiting they may be - to hold the Cabinet more accountable instead of telling us who has more 'winnability'. That would be quite comforting and reason enough to assure constituents to vote for the JLP.
I am inclined to also comment on the 'maturity' of our politicians when there is an upcoming election. During general and local government elections, the media - traditional and social - are rank with politicians who, all of a sudden, are not chauvinistic or pig-headed. Their Twitter and Facebook accounts become very active and responsive. Regardless of who you are, in large part, they value your opinion, they take note of your suggestions (at least they say so), and respond to your queries. They all of a sudden seem like the ideal political representatives - the ones you can and should emulate.
It would appear that the 1,689,680 of us who are registered voters should do whatever we can to have elections every so often. I prefer hearing grandiose plans because 'Jamaica needs a change now' and there will be 'people power' than be taunted by all this finger pointing.
Young Jamaicans are not here for politicians knowing their responsibility and subscribing to sensible ideologies only when they are seeking to be elected to office. This is ostentatious and offensive and does not suggest that we are well respected. Our parliamentarians know better, they can do better. Let's all hold them accountable beyond elections!
Jaevion Nelson is a youth development, HIV and human-rights advocate. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.