Overcoming Bad Politics Part V
In last week's articles we noted that the Skerrit-led Labour Party seeks to promote the false argument that political opponents seeking political office must be in a position to personally provide assistance to the people they what to vote for them. But I say to you my people that those kinds of political games are hurting our country. They cause a shift in the political culture of the nation, especially among the young who were not around at the time when politics in our country was much more honourable. This particular false argument contributes to entrenching the expectation among the population that politicians must engage in bribery. When people accept bribery a normal, many tend to vote for those with the biggest pocket to engage in bribery, rather than for the persons or political parties that have the best ideas and capabilities alongside the integrity required to take the country forward.
We noted last week that the role of the political opposition is to provide an alternative view on how the country should be managed. The job of running the country, including providing social assistance to those in need, falls to the ruling political administration since they have access to the resources of the state.
If we vote based on the personal ability of candidates to help people, then we may not get the right people to serve in pubic office. In that political culture, many will see participating in the electoral politics as an investment, and many will somehow seek to make back their investment or to reward those who help them fund their elections campaign. It is not uncommon for companies who want undue favour on government contract, to seek to fund political campaigns in return for such favour. The Freedom Party rejects all such overtures. But such perverse individuals or companies are willing to put money in the pockets of potential candidates to allow them to engage in giving gifts to persons in return for votes! That is bad politics. When a corrupt government assigns contracts to reward these individuals or companies, the contracts are significantly overpriced to allow for political paid-back which is often way beyond that which was contributed to the campaign. The result is that projects under such contracts cost the country much more than they should. All of us who want better for our country need to reason out with our fellow-countrymen and countrywomen to show how this behavior hurts all of us – through for example, less money being available for feeder roads, for the international airport, to fight crime, for good quality health care and so on.
Secondly, if potential candidates put their hands in their own pockets to assist persons, they should make it clear that persons assisted are not obligated to support them because of such help! I surely will make that clear if at all I am able to help anyone. Many potential candidate (those who choose to do the right thing) are sacrificing a lot to offer themselves to serve in political office. If anything, where possible, and with no strings attached, the people who believe in the cause of the potential candidate should contribute to the financing of the campaign of that candidate. Prospective candidates may have families to support, but in such a political culture, they and their families can be significantly adversely affected financially. This bad political culture keeps many good people from offering themselves for political office. The typical person in Dominica who offers himself for political office is not rich, but they may have much to contribute towards making our country prosperous, peaceful and enjoyable.
But does that mean that persons who need help should not be helped? By no means! Toward that end, what the Dominica Freedom party wants to promote are the following. (i) The development of effective and transparent social assistant institutions run by the state to help those in need – under good principles that can be embraced by all political parties. (ii) The encouragement of individuals and non-state actors to contribute to charitable organizations who are involved in helping those among us in need. (iii) Those of us who are able, seek to genuinely help others without perverse conditions attached.
But let us be aware of the hypocrisy of those who are in political office that seek to perpetuate the false narrative that those seeking political office must have something personally to give to those they want to vote for them. Ask them to honestly indicate, whether they had anything personally to give to the people at the time when they were first seeking political office? In fact, some of them demanded compensation in order to run for political office! Some of them now have dirty money to play the game of politics. But as a people let us reject such bad politics. Let us reject dirty money. Let us reject corruption.
Dominica Freedom Party.