#COVID19Chronicles-117: August 9, 2020-Suffering from electoral dysfunction?

Like the odour of sulphur after a fireworks display, the air in Jamaica is full of the smell of election speculation. How you really know it’s coming in certain people’s minds is that they want to have it postponed as soon as possible, before it’s even been called—because of the real logistical and health risks running through living with the COVID-19 pandemic. Well, almost on cue comes the Opposition’s town criers. The shriekiest of these was a long tweet from a Vice President of the People’s National Party (PNP):

Though much of the reasoning was sound, its real meaty flavour comes out in the last point: “If there is an election I will risk it all to rid the country of Holness but it’s my opinion that its ridiculous to call an election during a Covid spike.”

I like Damion Crawford as a political showman, who is one of the most entertaining of all the current politicians. I’ve often yearned for him to have a debate with another voluble politician, Everald Warmington, who knows how to show disdain at the slightest provocation. No pun, given Mr. Crawford’s hairstyle, but I’d ‘risk it all’ to see those two locked in battle with a vengeance.

My biggest problem with Mr. Crawford, is that, as a mathematician, he’s often guilty of not following his arguments to their logical conclusion, and gets wrapped up in his own entertainment. So, in this case, he ought to have declared that, pending any announced delay, he as VP recommends that PNP suspend all political activity related to a not-yet-called election. Let’s see how that can curry (goat dinner) any favours. 😉

Well, you can see that idea going up like steam when water hits a hot griddle.

If you were the dog which had been sent into space by the Russians and only just landed back on Earth you might be excused for not realizing that politics and elections, especially, in Jamaica are only partly about policies. Often policies are only found in a dusty draw marked ‘insurance documents’. It’s about food (wing and thigh?) and partying and ray-ray.

Let’s be honest; many Jamaicans would like the election to be done already, so that they can go full bore being concerned only with surviving a pandemic. Trinidad and Tobago heads to the polls tomorrow, after a short, but typically nasty campaign:

This humming and hawing over elections dates is wearing on Jamaicans. Sadly, it can’t be like the professional sports that have resumed since early summer, but played mainly without spectators.

If the pols had used their time well, they would have figured out how we could have a virtual election. There’s still time to do that. Well, some legal changes might take a bit of moving, but this is a crisis, dammit!

Real, constitutional issues lurk as we have the pandemic running and people quarantined or hospitalized as a result of the virus, and whether that may render them unable to vote. But, let’s not jump the gun on how that may be resolved.

Meantime, as a staunch resister of political predictions, I feel it in my waters that by next Sunday we’ll know the date of the general election. To show how little that matters to me, I’ll be heading off to the beach for a week of staycation with my family. You should vote to do the same; no referendum needed.

Author: Dennis G Jones (aka 'The Grasshopper')

Retired International Monetary Fund economist. My blog is for organizing my ideas and thoughts about a range of topics. I was born in Jamaica, but spent 30 years being educated, living, and working in the UK. I lived in the USA for two decades, and worked and travelled abroad, extensively, throughout my careers and for pleasure. My views have a wide international perspective. Father of 3 girls. Also, married to an economist. :)

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