When politicians defecate, it runs downhill and mires us in distrust, cynicism, and selfishness. It is not all their fault. A modern democracy is a full-time contact sport, and we have to play our individual and collective parts. Elections are important events in a democracy, but a living democracy requires ongoing engagement between the government and the governed. Politicians breathe for three things:
#2: Governing/public policy, i.e., being in power
That we want free and fair elections to cast our votes is understood, but what we/voters are most concerned with is what goes on during #2. That is what happens between elections. This is what really shapes our lives. The elite, while harbouring some of the same feelings about politicians, are less affected. They are insulated by wealth and the ability to “cut paan 2 side”, as appropriate. The majority, however, are paddling dories in the sewage flowing downhill.
So, do elections make a difference? They can. Will elections 2020 make a difference? Maybe. Can we improve the odds of improved governance? Yes, we can! BUT (caveat in very large print) it is really hard. Belize needs all sorts of things done, fixed, reformed, removed, added and worked out. It is a lot, and too much to cover here.
Besides, no single thing will do it. There is no magic silver bullet. There are things that are necessary but not sufficient by themselves. Necessary are the civic, business and professional associations and organizations, and the media and unions. These entities must grow spines and champion the interests of their members and broader constituents for the good of the country.
Whichever party wins the general election on November 11, 2020, faces a mountain of problems and expectations tinged with cynicism. The governing party will have a window of about one year to demonstrate the capacity and will to move in the right direction. The pressure will be on them to prove that they are not perpetuating the status quo of previous administrations. This does not mean they have to do everything themselves, but they must set the framework for action and hold up their end of the mandate with competent governance. We, the people, demand it and must hold them accountable!
Vote Early (but only once)! Belize Forever!
(Writer’s note: Harold A. Young is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science & Public Management at Austin Peay State University. He has a PH.D. in Philosophy (Political Science) from Georgia State University (GSU) and J.D. (LL.b./C.L.E.) from the University of the West Indies/Norman Manley School of Law. Dr. Young’s research interests include the death penalty, judicial institutional changes and decision-making. His current project, “The Survival of Gangs: Institutions or Outlaws?” involves extensive fieldwork in Belize. His work is published in several journals and his new book, The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and the Caribbean Court of Justice: Navigating Independence and Changing Political Environments, is now available. (email: [email protected] or amazon.com))