Jamaica Debates – When We Copy We Copy Mistakes

“Politicians can’t manage. All they do is talk.” – Donald Trump

I am no fan of The Donald. He doesn’t come close to being a leader in my view but at times in his many diatribes and profuse word salads, he spits out some gems. The quote above is one of those rare gems he said that I actually agree with. Politicians can’t manage. They CAN however, talk, talk, talk.

I have been listening to the #ElectoralDebates, my first as a returning resident, and between nodding off from total boredom to switching the channel to ESPN, I was once again disappointed in the performance of my country in this critical demonstration of our democracy. The idea to have a ‘Debate’ is clearly not a novel idea. It obviously came from the direct copy of the US political agenda. But here’s my problem with our political event; it is nothing but the creation of a political ring for the fighters to enter and give jabs and punches , hoping for a knockout.

My question is WHY? Why does it have to be a debate? Why does it have to have the format of a debate where sides are controlled by minutes to present themselves.? In everything truth surpasses the imitation and copy, and it seems the learned gentlemen and gentlewomen have copied what they saw and with no desire to be different or ingenious, presented a formal ‘debate” with both sides arguing on the moot topic- Jamaica Elections. The moderator was as predicted, the typical school teacher. “Your time is up Miss This” or ” You now have 45 seconds to respond Mr That.”

Screenshot via Youtube

Why? Why is it when we copy we don’t copy to improve, rather we copy to imitate and without even knowing, we copy the mistakes. This is a National discussion between the two parties that have presented their candidates for leadership of this tough country. There are many issues that need serious discussion. Here’s an idea, devote 5 minutes to each topic and fire up the discussion between the speakers. The questions presented were juvenile and seemed to have a “gotcha’ theme. A minute and a half to drive your party’s achievement and a 45 seconds to rebut. What is that? This is not a contest? This is the elections, a far more serious discussion that the people need to hear and have to make a wise decision. Trying to pack in so many questions getting so little or empty answers have left some members of the public, like myself, demotivated to go and risk their health to stand in line and place an X.

Here’s a plan. Devote 5 minutes to each topic of which there are plenty important ones to choose. After each 15 minute segment give your sponsors the opportunity to show how civic minded they are. Frankly I really do not see why anyone would want to make money from a political discussion on the future of the country, but I understand. There was very little or no discussion on the key engines to our economy – Agriculture, Tourism, the Police, Private Sector, Public Sector, The Environment, Foreign Investment, the big bad boy in the room Crime, Education and now COVID-19. There are so many topics that were not discussed. All we got were cute sound bites from both parties, hoping that their leadership would rub them down on the sidelines and cheer them on, keep going! In this proposed format you would still have time for the random, moderated questions from the public making the entire event one of substance, giving the public a clear view of what both parties would do to take the country forward into the 21st century.

C’mon man. Wake Up Jamaica. Ditch the school debate format. Have a decent time for fertile discussion. Tell each side to desist from name calling , it doesn’t advance their argument. The aim is what’s in it for the People, not the Parties.

Let me tell you a little story. 58 years ago, two cousins saw an opportunity to make their family names immortal in the history of the country. They both came from the fair skinned class at the time so their claims would be legitimate, as opposed to another claim from another Jamaican whose skin colour was much darker and was not considered trustworthy. The cousins made their case, one took the side of the thousands of freed black people, the other took to the side of the intellectual and elite. They battled for the trust of the people they were courting.

They adopted colours, Green for one , Orange for the other to further differentiate their differences. Lines were drawn and the country became a two coloured lizard hunting to devour what their leaders were offering. Over time the parties suddenly changed focus and who was for the elite took on the pains of the poor while the other side championed the side of the elite. The parties have remained at ideological odds since and we the people have still not recovered.

Have you noticed? After each debate the public saw no demonstration of unity with the common purpose of leading this country. No handshake between the ‘debaters’ , as far as I saw on TV, and this simple but important gesture was missing from the copy cat version of the US political system. More of the same. If our leaders cannot even shake hands in public how can we expect to solve our collective problems as Jamaicans?

The United States have a decision to make between a man called Biden who projects himself as the stable, moderate Daddy or from Trump. Jamaicans also have a decision to make. Do we hire the PNP, the socialist saint of the poor or do we extend the contract for the JLP, the intellectual capitalist? That’s our choice. We are asked to put our chips on the square we prefer but history has some interesting facts to keep in mind. In both elections voter turn out has been abysmal and low turnout favours the GOP in the US and the JLP in Jamaica. Both countries are conducting elections in the new COVID-19 dimension. Both countries are seeing spikes in the infection rates. Both countries are asking is this the best we have to choose? The long and short answer to this question is Yes, for now.


When we copy we copy the mistakes.

There is the good and the bad, the great and the low, the just and the unjust. I swear to you that all that will never change. And when we vote, the little that will vote, will decide who runs this country for another 5 years for the good and the bad, the great and the low, the just and the unjust. I swear to you, all that will never change.

© August 28, 2020. All Rights Reserved.

Written by Paul Tomlinson (c) – Check out his website HERE

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