‘Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely’. Like the wiles of an alluring exotic dancer, power unceasingly beckons to men and women, no matter how pure and humble their beginnings.
There are quite a few new candidates being prepared for nomination in the upcoming General Elections. All are saying that they are coming with fresh, different and altruistic intentions. The young new Prime Minister speaks of ‘transformational leadership’.
Most Jamaicans greet these pronouncements with yawns and, maybe, faint interest. We have been there and done that. The real surprise will be if these candidates actually retain their virginal qualities in the political den of deceipt, corruption and ‘party solidarity’.
One problem lies in our political structure. The Prime Minister’s post is designed to be contingent on party support. Andrew Holness cannot dismiss Mike Henry, as Minister of Transport, for the JDIP affair without losing support of other JLP MPs, putting his position as PM in serious jeopardy. So he must bear with what most see as Henry’s corruption, or charitably, as his inexplicable ignorance. This casts the PM in the morally repugnant position of his actions not being in line with his continually broadcast words.
One candidate, whom I admire personally, said through Twitter that she would bring a fresh approach to problem diagnosis and solution. I am concerned about what she, and other newcomers, will do when faced with the decision of ‘right’ versus ‘the party position’. In Jamaica, these often do not coincide.
When the Americans vigourously debated their new form of Government in the 1780s to 1790s, the guiding principle was how to limit any individual’s control on absolute power. These ‘Founding Fathers’ knew well of the corruptive effects of power. Even today, US politicians try to push the bounds of their Constitution, always trying to reach out the tempting allure of power.
In Jamaica, our politicians only abide by the Constitution when it is in their party’s interest (Dudus and Golding). Any changes to Jamaica’s Constitution must come from the same Parliament that benefits from some of its most vulgar abuses. Our MPs clearly have too much power, and worse are completely unaccountable to the citizenry.
Can we really expect change from this state of affairs? Will politicians willingly give up power? The answer is clear.
Regardless, we, or rather, I, need to think about how Jamaica can overcome this massive obstacle. Without that, we have another 50 years of frustration and disappointment to endure.