Rev. Dr William Watty
Rev. Dr William Watty

It would be manifestly improper, and at this stage premature, for a voter who is not wedded to either of the so-called political parties, to name the Candidate who can depend upon his vote in the forthcoming General Election on December 8; but how I will be approaching the matter of voting, and what are the considerations that will assist my reluctant approach to the Voting Booth, and guide my choice when I enter, might, I think, be of some interest to persons like me who, though not affiliated, nevertheless feel obligated to participate in the democratic process at this critical time, as far as critical observation, insight and conscience will allow.

To begin, let me declare right away that I will not be voting along party lines. For me, Political Parties in Dominica became a farce when Loreen Bannis-Roberts and Julius Timothy crossed the floor to join the very Party they were lambasting not long before and, on joining, were cheerfully welcomed and catapulted to hierarchy and have, ever since, settled very comfortable there. However one might wish to justify that political game, it stinks. It has proved to me that, for all the Party colours, Party Symbols, Party slogans, Party cries and Party posturings, there are no political parties in Dominica, but only Maximum Leaders with their henchmen and henchwomen, and a multitude of hangers-on all of whom, and I mean all, from top to bottom, are in it for what they can get out of it, and put self-interest and personal enrichment above every other consideration for going into politics. That is what patriotism has come to mean in Dominica. Which of the political parties is really a Party? Has anyone seen recently any audited Statement of Accounts that can tell the membership of any of the Parties and how many are paid-up members and how many are in arrears?

This is the ugly mood that will be dragging me into a Voting Booth on December 8, for I can say without fear of contradiction that neither of the so-called Parties has done me that much good that they can squeeze out of me a grudging vote of thanks. I have heard, for instance, of plans to bring potable water into every household in the Commonwealth of Dominica. I take it that I am not in Dominica because my home has not been included in the Plan. My water for drinking, cooking, bathing, laundry and flushing comes directly out of the windows of heaven, and I must say that the good Lord has, so far, been more than merciful to me and, for the time being, most bountiful in his supply. So I do not want to think or hear about Party when I go in to vote. Let those who have benefitted greatly vote out of humble gratitude. I am not one of them. I am not among the fortunate ones who have feasted upon the "sweet grapes" – pulp and skin and pips and, having suckled the heifer dry, have become so bloated with her milk, her butter and her cheese that they are now ready to burst. So far as Parties are concerned, they will be of no interest to me whatsoever in the Voting Booth.

But I have heard that this election will not be about Parties but about Leadership. General Elections in Dominica have suddenly become Presidential. The choice will be between Roosevelt Skerrit and Lennox Linton and which of the two will make the better Prime Minister. I shall therefore have to choose between a new Novice, whose parents and grandmother I knew personally from my early childhood, and an old Novice, for whom I voted in 2004, and who after ten years has not yet graduated out of his novitiate with enough confidence to engage, in public debate, the other novice who is far more novice than he. I am therefore being asked to choose between the uneducated novice who, I understand, was expelled from the Grammar School because he could not control his temper, and the veteran novice who is yet to come clean and prove to the people of Dominica that, at his nomination in 2009, he had not acknowledged allegiance to a foreign state and was therefore qualified. That is what our concentration on Leadership is about. That is our best Presidential material for 2014 - prospective Presidents who were both so novice that we did not have the opportunity of a public debate in which we could put to them our burning questions and set our minds at rest. Instead we had to eavesdrop while they beat their chests in self-admiration, and tore each other down mercilessly. Why? Because the rest of us, Dominicans, were supposed to be political idiots and could not see through their antics.

But that is not all. Academic qualifications have suddenly been raised to a new high. They have become the sine qua non for political leadership. I never thought I would live to hear such deodorant garbage spouted by persons who pretend to a modicum of learning. The best answer to the specious plea for academic credentials is the swift ascent of Dr. Vaughan Lewis, one of the most eminent Caribbean scholars of our time, to political leadership in St. Lucia and his even swifter political demise. On the other hand, look at Alexander Bustamante of Jamaica, Vere Bird of Antigua-Barbuda, Robert Bradshaw of St. Kitts-Nevis, Ebenezer Joshua of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Edward Oliver LeBlanc of Dominica. With little or no scholarship they were able to give a good account of their stewardship in political leadership. But need we go that far? Ask Roosevelt Skerrit, ask him how much of his immense, profound and brilliant scholarship has helped him through as Prime Minister of Dominica in the last decade. Go ahead. Ask him. Let him tell you. If scholarship and academic credentials are that paramount, why don't we just take Dr. Philbert Aaron and crown him as our next Prime Minister and finish?

But there is more. Much has been made of the charge that Lennox Linton has been caught plagiarizing, exposing once again the abysmal ignorance of his accusers as to what plagiarism really is. Plagiarism is not a matter of re-using the identical words or phrases that have been used by someone else, or by others, before. Vocabulary and phraseology can be and have been re-used by others repeatedly without inverted commas and without plagiarism. It is when the thought of someone has been pirated by another, without acknowledgement, as if it originated with the pirate that a plagiarism has occurred, even when the piracy was masked by changes in the vocabulary. Linton has not plagiarized. But there has been another angle to the accusation. It prompted one of his own Ministers, Mr. Mathew Walter, to go out on a limb and declare that Mr. Skerrit has plagiarized from time to time and furthermore, as Prime Minister, that he had every prerogative to plagiarize. Indeed, he had a whole battery of speech-writers, employed by him, and from whom he freely plagiarized whole speeches because he was Prime Minister. Quite true, Mr. Walter, but plagiarism is plagiarism, and the definition does not change because a Prime Minister had good reason for doing it. So all Mr. Walter has told us is that the Prime Minister habitually plagiarized, but with a clear conscience. Is this, then, what our Leadership contest, nay our Presidential race, was about? Shordear ka dee kanawi bordawe nwear? Coal-pot telling sauce-pan "Your bottom black"? (Please forgive me, here am I translagiarizing).

But thank God, we are not there yet. Thank God, this will not be a Presidential election. Thank God, when I enter the Voting Booth on December 8, the names of Roosevelt Skerrit and Lennox Linton will not be on the Ballot Paper, nor Ronald Green nor Ambrose George, Reginald Austrie or Jefferson James. I will leave the joy of voting for or against those good gentlemen to voters in other constituencies, Mr. Skerrit to the voters in the Vieille Case constituency and Mr. Linton to the voters in the Marigot constituency. My business will be with the names on the Ballot Paper, and with their credibility as persons. I will focus my attention, not on their defunct Parties that have suddenly risen up in the open valley like an exceeding great army, only to return to their graves by Epiphany. It is on the Candidates that I will concentrate. It is for the Candidate who has impressed me more with honesty, maturity, integrity, decency, intelligence and competence and, withal, the moral fortitude to tell his Political Leader, Skerrit or Linton, that he is wrong when he is clearly going wrong, that I will cast my precious vote. And should I fail to find such a candidate on the Ballot Paper, I will turn my attention to the Leaders. Then, and only then, I will make a choice, which I trust will not take long, between the one Leader who was Novice enough to seek a public debate in which he might remove or confirm, once and for all, the doubts and reservations that were raging about him, and the other Leader, the more experienced, circumspect and astute Novice who was clever enough not to take that chance.

By Rev. Dr. William W. Watty