DFP political leader Kent Vital
DFP political leader Kent Vital

In the last article, we asked the question - how has politics come to be viewed by many of our people as a dirty game? Towards discussing that question, we started distinguishing between "good politics' and "bad politics"

We noted that good politics is politics that is practiced with honesty and aims to uplift the society and we discussed a number of related dimensions to good politics. Let us now expand on the discussion we initiated on bad politics.

Bad politics is politics that is practiced based on narrow interest and political convenience, rather than for the optimal welfare of the society. These narrow interests include being re-elected, the amassing of personal wealth, and the corrupt rewarding of those persons or organizations that financed the political campaign of the winning party. The practitioners of bad politics speak truth only when it does not hurt their narrow interest and often, they do not set out the complete picture in a bid to hide the things they do not want the public to be aware of. They often seek to influence public opinion with false arguments and to them, telling lies, and engaging in deception, are parts of the game of politics!

The practitioners of bad politics seek to undermine strong governance institutions because such gets in the way of their pursuit of their narrow interests. Bad politics divides people and its core characteristics – self-interest, rewards and favors, prevents public spending from yielding best value for money.

But to more fully understand how "bad politics" is hurting our country's development, let us begin to point out several examples of it.

Let us start by talking about the allegiance of many persons to their political parties. I ask all of us at this point to confront ourselves with the hard truth rather than being defensive if we want to get at the root of our national problems! So, why do you support the political party that you identify yourself with, whether it's the Dominica Freedom Party (DFP), the Dominica Labour Party (DLP) or the United Workers Party (UWP)? I put it to you that it is not because of our philosophical positions. All three political parties are close to the center of the political spectrum! We are definitely similar in terms of our economic thinking and the differences are not striking. In our country, moral philosophical positions have not played a strong role in our politics and political parties have not spoken out on these issues in their elections campaigns, so our loyalties to political parties cannot be due to this at this point in time.

If the above is the case, then there is no reason to hold on indefinitely to our political party allegiances even where political parties have failed to contribute to reducing poverty, reducing unemployment, increasing prosperity, improving economic dignity, reducing crime and insecurity, and living better together as a people.

Why then should we support a political party at this juncture of our political reality in this country? Because even if we have similar economic philosophies, our teams may have different capacities and have differences with regards to the integrity it takes to formulate and implement policies, strategies, programmes and actions that would lead our nation to arrive at the best quality of life that is potentially possible! So yes, the capacity and the integrity of the teams and leaders is what separates us. But these things can change over time and that is why we should not be so glued to our political parties, instead, we should all be patriots first and foremost!

But many people refer to themselves as "die hard" Labour (or Freedom or Workers)! Well it is that sort of thinking that is hurting our land! If you are a "die-hard" political party supporter at this juncture in our political life, it may be because you are following the party for reasons that are not right. Maybe because you hope to gain benefits from your party being in power. Maybe you are protecting your political parties' "innings" so that you could continue to receive favour ahead of those of your fellow Dominicans who identify with other political parties or are not aligned to any party. This is all part of the narrow-interest we spoke about earlier. It is more like you are part of a gang and we need to stop such tribal politics!

Maybe it is just a turf war fueled by hate of other political groups! Maybe you are holding a grudge due to something done to you by you or your family long ago by another political party. Maybe you are even remembering the good done to you by your political party!

None of that helps our country to go forward. But good ideas and the integrity of the current political team counts. Let us stop the madness! Start by kicking our Roosevelt Skerrit and not voting for those aligned to him. But also, let us drop our unreasonable party allegiances. Stay tuned for part III next week.

Kent Vital Political Leader Dominica Freedom Party.