Campaigning should be about issues

February 26, 2016

As I wrote this yesterday, Jamaicans across the island were rolling out of bed with their thoughts centred on who they were going to vote for. By now, they would have known which party will lead Jamaica, hopefully forward, for the next four or five years.

Now that the madness we would have witnessed from both sides of the political divide over the past month or so is over, let us take some time to understand that for us to grow as a nation, we need to develop a sense of political maturity that is going to be critical to this country's future.

Whenever political campaigning starts, it's like a reset button is switched on in the heads of the voting population. Four years of suppressed insanity is suddenly unleashed and people lose all sense of reasoning. Those who are suffering forget what got them there in the first place. It doesn't matter that they have not seen their member of parliament in years, all of a sudden he is their new best friend because he is coming with goodies that last for an hour, and then they go hungry again for the next four years. It never makes sense to me.

Because of this extremist fervour, all sense of reasoning goes out the window. Like, who burns down a polling station on election day? What kind of stupidity is that? People also literally take leave of their senses, spouting all kinds of gibberish in support of their respective parties, mimicking the garbage being spewed by their political representatives. The party leader could order the mass execution of children during the lead up to an election and the supporters would find ways to justify it.

Real issues don't matter. They never seem to do.

However, when the dust settles after election day and people gradually return to their senses, as if suddenly released from some alien mind-control device, they start to realise that their choice might not have been the right one, and so the cussing begins for the next four years. No proper roads, no jobs, high taxes on essential items, no opportunities to achieve a higher education; and so the suffering continues.

As this current generation ages and fades into oblivion, I do hope the upcoming generation of voters will begin to break the cycle of non-thinking, irresponsible voting. I honestly hope that there will be no voting for any particular party just because their parents did so, and that they will carefully think about the things that are important to the future of this country and their kids before they decide who they want to lead them.

It's the only way we are going to get out of this vicious cycle we seem to be trapped in. If we are to become the great nation we were intended to be, change has to start with each and every one of us. We have to become smarter. We have to become a nation of thinkers. We have to stop depending on people to tell us how to think and what to think, and start informing ourselves of all the attendant issues that affect our daily lives.

If we can do that, then campaigning will be about real issues - not about the size of people's houses and all that nonsense. And we will demand that the candidates be engaged in meaningful debates that will provide people with the information they need to make informed decisions about their future and that of their children.

Because, at the end of the day, these people we vote for always seem to have access to green cards and foreign passports. We are the ones who have to live here; not all of us can just pack up and run away if things get messed up.

We need to remember and think on these things and engage our minds, not lose them, when the silly election season comes around.

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