Damion Crawford and the Jamaica Version of the Leviathan by Donovan Reynolds Blogger and independent writer.
Damion Crawford, the current Minister of State in the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, was a few weeks ago defeated by businessman Peter Blake in a delegate’s election to represent the governing People’s National Party (PNP) in a rural constituency in the next Jamaican general election. Crawford is a Rastafarian with Christian beliefs. In a past article I reprimanded him for launching a scathing attack on the emerging secular movement in Jamaica. However, on balance, I believe that he is one of the best and well-meaning political representative the country has ever seen, mainly because of his emphasis on education and his aberration of pork barrel politicking.
According to a recent editorial (The Jamaica Observer), parliamentarians and those aspiring to sit in the Legislature, are seen more as benefactors than facilitators. They are required to offer scarce benefits: cash, lunch money, liquor, building materials, school books, uniforms, bags and other supplies as well as contracts. Crawford’s political demise mainly stemmed from his attempts to change the entrenched culture of patronage too quickly. Crawford focused the spending of his meagre constituency development funds on investments in education for children and young people.
The lifelong unending and edgy desire for power is a fundamental quality shared by all humans within a state. Along with that power acquisition is fear that peoples corrupt political power acts as a counterbalance to the appetite for progressive reforms within a state, often for selfish reasons. This sometimes prevents well-meaning political representatives from benefitting from a second term in political office. Such tensions and ambivalence in politics often give rise to the question, are ordinary citizens capable of making good decisions using the democratic process or should they be ruled by an absolute monarch or dictator? There has been a long running discussion in Jamaica that the Westminster system of politics and government has not served the country well. There is a glaring need for capacity building and strengthening of political intuitions. Not only does the country need the best Political talented individuals but also the best quality political delegates who choose and support these candidates.
Jamaica is highly regarded as the sporting and cultural mecca of the global south, with an array of talented persons covering a wide range of disciplines at international standards. However, a third of the Jamaican population are functionally illiterate. Corruption of public and private individuals is rife and it has an appalling debt to GDP ratio of132.72 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product according to recent World Bank statistics.
Thomas Hobbs, the 17th Century Philosopher, while arguing in favour of an absolute monarchy, advised that for self-preservation men should enter a contract by which they agree to surrender part of their natural freedom to an absolute ruler. He asserted that men by nature are brutish, wild and ungovernable. He asserted that this contract should be entered into as the nature of men is to seek nothing but selfish pleasures; such individualism naturally leads to a war in which every man’s hand is against his neighbour. He advises that men should be governed by an unelected yet intelligent central authoritative figure. These opinions were framed against the backdrop of the English civil war.
This advice holds true in some ways for Jamaica, being embroiled in an almost economic civil war since its independence from British Colonial rule since 1962. There are long protracted feelings that the Westminster model of political democracy is high unsuitable for fledgling democracies such as Jamaica as they are riddled with institutional corrupt practices. Many ideas have been floated to include a coalition arrangement with the two major political parties: the JLP and the PNP. Neither of them has bothered to promote a reform agenda as they both benefit from the current system. Former Jamaican Prime Minister, P.J Patterson, described the state of this Political and economic civil war as, “the fight for scarce benefits and spoils carried on by hostile tribes that sem to be perpetually at war”.
Development plays a central role in reducing corruption and resolving political conflict in third world countries such as Jamaica. Hostile political tribes often emerge from a lack of political will to engender a credible value system that can unify and transform those who are vulnerable to either poverty or greed. With money in short supply, Members of Parliament such as Damion Crawford are faced with the dilemma of whether to feed or to educate in order to remain in power. Many politicians in Jamaica owe their careers and status to corrupt delegates and few of them, if any, will take a stand against it, either for fear of upsetting their own careers or the political status quo.
The way forward to stamping out corruption in Jamaican political institutions is not a linear one. A feasible solution to retaining well-meaning and bright Politicians like Damion Crawford and Christopher Tufton in Jamaica is to not employ a Leviathan political dictatorship approach; culling the delegates list of the two main political organisations will help to strengthen and improve political integrity. Currently the link between political aspirants and delegate’s power is having a direct and uneasy relationship that needs fixing.
I therefore suggest a reform of the political delegate process using national laws aimed at improving overall efficiency capacity and institutional integrity. I also propose that, as part of a broad raft of electoral reforms, both parties sit with the political ombudsman and agree on a legal framework of standards to apply when selecting party delegates. At the moment, both political parties are saddled with delegate lists that have dubious, incompetent and corrupt delegates who have their own self-interest at heart. Yes I have said it! A majority of the current delegates are ignorant, selfish and unscrupulous money makers. The great Greek philosopher Plato, in The Republic stated: money-makers are tiresome company, as they have no standard but cash value.” Let’s get rid of them.
This article was written jointly by Donovan Reynolds CEO and edited by Ann Smith Managing Editor of Kingston-Mouth .com. Donovan Reynolds is an Independent Blogger and Human Rights Activists who is of a Jamaican descent and a legal academic that has an interest in Human Rights and International Development Issues.