Wed | Dec 1, 2021

Letter of the Day | Say goodbye to the politics of yesteryear

Published:Saturday | April 13, 2019 | 12:00 AM


Ann Marie Vaz’s historic win in East Portland’s by-election last week (April 4, 2019) sent a powerful message about the political pulse and consciousness of today’s electorate. As a young person who has been politically insouciant for quite some time, largely due to the divisive, corrupt, and nepotistic character of politics in this country, I must confess that I waited with bated breath for the denouement of a much anticipated by-election that would eventually register a higher voter turnout than that of 2016’s general election.

I was particularly impressed by the campaign run by the Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP) Ann Marie Vaz for a number of reasons. For starters, Mrs Vaz, a self-professed “people-tician”, made concerted efforts to consistently engage and connect with the people of East Portland in a way that appeared to be truly authentic. Reports indicate that she went door-to-door, scoured every nook and cranny of the constituency, and was genuinely interested in listening to the concerns of the people she wished to serve.

Then there was the fact of her solid track record of consistent work in the constituency (particularly in regard to education and infrastructural development), to which a number of residents have said they could attest, long before a by-election was ever contemplated there.

This spoke volumes for me as well as quite a number of persons she engaged with on social media about the sincerity of her stated intention to chart a course for the development and prosperity of the constituency.

Focus on the issues

But what was most impressive about Mrs Vaz was her laser-like focus on the issues that mattered as well as the grace and equanimity she displayed throughout her campaign even in the face of strong pushback from some quarters.

Quite admirably, she kept her eyes firmly fixed on the prize and never once dignified the disparaging and petulant comments of her opponent with a response. She was indeed a class act in every important respect.

If nothing else, the outcome of the East Portland by-election, and, certainly, that of the 2016 general election, signifies a disruption of the political status quo and an incremental — though no less significant — break from the past. Thankfully, people no longer seem to be voting solely based on blind loyalty to any particular political party, owing to family or community tradition. They now seem to be thinking for themselves.

Now more than ever before, people seem to be intent on seeing politicians walk the walk (beyond the campaign trail) and more willing to take them to task should they fail or refuse to do so. This disruption of the political status quo is a long overdue, but extremely welcomed, development, and it makes me very hopeful about Jamaica’s political future.