Jamaican political rhetoric–getting warm and could get hot

I am still hopping mad about Mr. Warmington’s comments on voting. (Maybe, it’s subliminal, because some years ago, he lost an election to Dennis Jones–it wasn’t me :-))

At least, some bigger voices than mine in terms of public commentary have made it clear that this is not acceptable. Professor Trevor Munroe yesterday referred to Mr. W’s recent remarks as “political corruption”Observer columnist Mark Wignall today cites what I also find very disturbing–the tacit support given by the JLP leader, Mr. Holness, who was on the same platform as Mr. W, and said NOTHING against what he heard. We must take that as, at least, tacit approval. If so, then where do we go with that endorsement? You cannot transform what you are not prepared to change. You will be what you accept. Maybe, Mr. W. will get his wish at the next election, with a resounding rise in voting and the nice present of a lost seat.

Only 22 countries in the world have compulsory voting on their books and only 10 enforce those laws, according to information on Wikipedia. If Mr. W. wanted to argue for the improved legitimacy that would come from higher voter participation then he could have expressed himself better. Some of these countries make an exception for ‘very young’ and ‘very old’ voters. Others make exceptions for illiterate voters.

What still grieves me is the total disregard in Mr. W’s comments for those who have every right to full political representation through their participation in the financing of the State. The notion that voting confers rights to state benefits is the beginning of justification for political patronage. Some see it as more sinister because it implies perhaps the justification of party favouritism. How dare a politician think of only giving benefits to those who have cast their mark on a ballot and not think to support those who want benefits and have contributed directly to government being able to provide those benefits?

Since, starting to write this, I read that Andrew Holness has now made a comment. He is reported as having said. He signalled that the Party is not in favour of Mr. Warmington’s position: “The general secretary, I believe, responded to say that the party’s position has always been that state resources are available to all citizens, regardless of their belief and whether or not they vote, yes or no”. Well, let’s take that muted remark as distancing himself and the party from Mr. W.

Now, let’s clear up what Mr. W. means by arguing that if you do not vote you should be put in jail: “…you should lock them up if they don’t vote…”.

Mr. Warmington’s arguments are very confused, and I repeat ‘dangerous’–making it clear that he knows that those who did not vote are really below consideration and deserve condemnation: “48% sat home and didn’t vote and they have the loudest squeal and the loudest talk and everything is bad for them in government and they don’t participate in anything and those people are going to say that I must apologize?”

Let’s see if the talk is another nine-day wonder, or if something is done about something that is supposedly unacceptable.