Gerard Benjamin
Gerard Benjamin

It has been often said that "religion and politics are two of society's biggest encumbrances." But, of course, it remains to be seen what is meant by either factor, notwithstanding the rationale for the wide subscription to the adage. What would contextually be more precise by the customary application of the term politics, I believe, is clearly partisan politics.

Wikipedia defines partisan as "persons who strongly support their party's policies and are reluctant to compromise with political opponents". However, according to another source, an even more explicit explanation of a partisan is exhibiting blind, prejudiced and unreasonable allegiance to a political party or political leader. The long-term socio-political outlook for developing small island states with partisan-oriented political parties commandeered by ultra-partisan leaders is quite dismal, despite what may be touted as "great progress" being achieved.

A basic definition of politics, on the other hand, as given by the All Nations Christian Home and School dictionary, is primarily that of the science or act of governing a country. Second, supplementary definitions are the activities and policies of those who control or seek to control a nation. Third, the activities or practices of anyone who seeks any position of power or advantage. By this three-pronged definition, it is clear that the idea of politics being associated with such aberrances as lying, corruption, bribery, slander, vulgarity, vitriol, ridicule, tribalism, victimisation, incitement, and disrespect for one's opponents et al., is misguided and therefore totally untenable.

While the third part of the definition could be subjectively slanted to reflect partisanism, it neither fundamentally nor necessarily signifies such an aspect. The widespread incognisance of the differentiation in meaning between politics and partisan politics (probably even among politicians) invariably contributes significantly to the pervasive partisan spirit dominating our political culture.

If partisan politics were to be compared to a malignant disease, the independent nation of Dominica would be accurately diagnosed as a 44-year-old critically ill patient in the fourth stage of a scarce and aggressive variant. Its metastasis has extended to virtually every dimension of the national fabric. In the appointment processes for the presidency and allegedly most leading positions in various spheres of public service institutions, in awards of most construction contracts, in the hiring of applicants for specific jobs, in the allocation of housing and distribution of relief, the ailment's widespread effect is conspicuously manifested; with probably few exceptions. Neither families, close relatives and friends, previously close-knit communities, nor even the revered institution of the church, not excluding the evangelical "bible-believing" so-called sector, has escaped its unmitigated scourge.

But our willful ignorance in not recognising its progressive emaciating of the national spirit, and the consequential lack of a collective determination to be healed of its disabling handicap to sustainable national development, is all the more tragic. On the contrary, there appears to be what amounts to a love-hate affair with our sweetheart partisanism. Each side loathes and forthrightly damns it in the other but contradictorily cherishes its intimate attachment to it.

In part two of the series, we will further examine the retardant effects of partisan politics in the Commonwealth of Dominica. Psalm 133. Please read. May Yah, our Saviour, save and bless Dominica.