Its gonna be tough
So we are in year 2012 with 350+ days to go. Like every other new year, we say this is gonna be an interesting year… and like any other time, it always will be an interesting year. C’mon man, who can really say that any year to come will be a boring year?
Anyway, the postmortem on the Jamaican election is still going on and many people, especially many outside of Jamaica, are still wondering what the hell happened? Well, its quite simple… “Its about Dudus stoopid”.
From the whole extradition issue, the attack on Tivoli and Manatt debacle, it was clear that the Jamaica Labour Party would have an uphill battle to with the next election. The issue was a major game changer in the minds of Jamaicans. And as hated as Tivoli might be to many Jamaicans who live outside the community, what happened there was a tragedy. And that there was no fall out over the 70+ people who were killed, just cemented that as a travesty.
Bruce Golding should have taken responsibility and should have resigned. The JLP should have taken responsibility and fired him. But they stood united behind him. It was clear that Golding was going to bluff it out into the next election and the minute the JLP committed to him their collective grave was dug.
And it was not as if the party didn’t have it warnings. The private sector made it clear that they didn’t think that Golding was electable. I would think that Golding dared them to not support him knowing how many of them felt about Portia Simpson Miller. I think in the end, he was forced to resign because of private sector pressure, and more than subtle hints from the US state department.
But one thing about the private sector. When I saw that they had divided their financial support between both parties, I knew that they didn’t believe the JLP could win and they didn’t want to be on the losing side. That told me that the JLP was beaten. I didn’t know they would be that whipped.
Something else. Holness was not the best person to lead the JLP and for all intents and purposes, he is likely finished. He’s not gonna be there next election. It should have been Christopher Tufton, who I believe has greater ability, credibility and presence. It won’t be long before he heads the party. It’s Hugh Shearer all over again… but without the nastiness of Wilton Hill and Eddie Seaga.
And speaking of Seaga, it couldn’t have helped Holness that he was once Seaga’s protégé. Jamaica does not want a resurrection of either Bruce Golding or Edward Seaga, much less the spawn of both.
Another negative of course was that the economy hadn’t really moved and the reality was there was more smoke and mirrors than progress. I keep hearing Edmund Bartlett talk about a great year for tourism… but none of that trickled down to the worker, or to the streets. Whatever gains there might be in the economy, was cut off long before it reached those who needed it most.
Even if there was some miniscule progress, other factors were greater in the decision–making at the polls… which brings me to Race, the factor that pundits continue to ignore. We might hide from the issue, thinking that Jamaica is above discussing race… but it is there and it is important.
I blogged some time ago that since Golding came in power, there was a major racial shift in Jamaica… the ‘good ole days’ were back. Everything but black was elevated above black.
Now some people will say that it is about class not race, and to some extent they are correct… but most forget that the two are inextricably linked in Jamaica. The closer to the top of Jamaica’s economic ladder, the lighter the median skin colour.
After all the social gains black people had made under Michael Manley- ‘no bastard no deh’, empowerment of women, abolition of masters servants act, improved worker rights, free education which gave opportunities for university education to many blacks who otherwise would never have achieved it, and the whole attitude that black people had reason to be proud- there was a monumental shift after 1980.
I remember the amount of female friends who lamented to me that since the JLP came into power then, sexual exploitation in the workplace had risen dramatically. And it was often about what skin colour was exercising that sexual power and against whom.
I have visited Jamaica several times over the last few years and though no one spoke about a return to that sexual exploitation (though there is no doubt it still exists), the colour issue was palpable. I observed who and who were photographed on the social pages and who were missing. In the malls, I observed a new lightness in the steps of those of lighter hue, a kind of ‘we are in charge now’ arrogance, and the almost perceptible rounded shoulders of the rest. I was not the only one who noticed this.
I felt the resentment rising. And the JLP is tied to the upper classes and thus those of lighter hue, while Portia is tied to the poorer classes thus black people. As much as we talk about Jamaicans and ‘bleaching’, inside they resent being lauded over.
Which brings me to a small aside. Sometimes people fail to recognize that ‘bleaching’ in Jamaica is not necessarily about a lack of self-love, it is often about empowerment, about the recognition that if you want success, you have to be ‘lighter’. Black race pride is still buried deep inside Jamaicans. The JLP rarely seems to understand that.
So the colour backlash hit the JLP and they lost.
The JLP doesn’t appear to have the equivalent in Portia Simpson Miller. Well, actually they do but they might as well put Pearnel Charles out to pasture. Since Bustamante, the JLP has no one who clearly is identified with poor, black people. Seaga in a sense, yes.
But Seaga was more identified with Tivoli than Jamaica on a whole. And the fact that he gave back Jamaica to the upper classes/aka ‘red man dem’ in 1980, destroyed much of those credentials. Referring to PJ Patterson as a ‘black’ scandal bag, made him unelectable after that.
Until the JLP can find someone who resonates on a racial level, someone who truly seem to empathise with poor people, the party will spend a very long winter in the cold.
(written on January 4)
Portia Simpson Miller hasn’t started out her new shift too well with the announcement of a clearly bloated cabinet (please note the common ‘c’). It is clearly a hypocritical reverse of her former position and one on which she continuously criticized Golding on. Still, no one cares, if they perform, but I’m not sure will be able to. Jamaica’s problems are far too much for any one-party.
I still maintain that some form of coalition is needed for Jamaica. Right now, full time party politicians running Jamaica is a total mess.
And the republican circus continues. Mitt Romney, as I stated before even the first contest, will be the republican nominee for presidency. But the fact that all his current rivals have the long knives out on him, will eventually work against him when he faces Barack Obama.
The crop of republicans have so far shown no aptitude to eventually rally around the front-runner and it feels as if the denigration of Romney is more personal than political. He has and will continue to spend a lot of money and energy making it through the ‘playoffs’, that by the time he plays the final, he will be too drained of resources. Furthermore, his rivals have made so many accusations, it will be difficult to wipe off all the smears. The fact that he so openly flip-flopped on issues that he had previously committed to, to try to buy the tea party support, will work against him. Especially since they are not happy with him anyway.
Here is the conservative dilemma. A black christian(?) democrat versus a white mormon republican. Oooh that’s gonna be tough. Believe it or not, as racist as many christian conservatives are, mormonism to some is worse.
I bet that Romney will be forced to pick an ultra-conservative as his running mate… likely someone who appears religious, with strong hawkish and anti-immigration views which will alienate the Hispanic and independent vote. Doubt that will be Santorum or Paul or anyone else in this pack because they have made such vitriolic accusations against him. As much name recognition as Palin has, he’s not gonna touch her with a 10 foot pole.
Most likely be Christie from New Jersey who has endorsed Romney for the nomination (not always a good thing). If not Christie, it will be someone with so-called strong conservative values, definitely not a black but quite possible a hispanic. Now who could that be? Certainly not Marco Rubio, as much as the tea party would love him. He only alienates everyone else. Susana Martinez, governor of New Mexico will be a choice (kills 3 stones with 1 bird. Woman, hispanic and anti-immigration).
Romney’s list is narrow because he has to appease both the tea party and the independents. And he can’t win without support from both. And the tea party is almost diametrically opposed to anyone who the independents might favour and vice versa. He’s gonna have it tough.
“A movie recently released celebrates the life of ex-British pm, Margaret Thatcher. I fear it is the resurrecting, reincarnation and make-over of a fairly bad person. A recent Time magazine cover story on Thatcher was I suppose, just following the mantra of not speaking ill of the dead (no she’s not dead yet).
In the Time story, with all the accolades heaped on Thatcher, not one line addressed Thatcher’s support of South Africa apartheid regime of the time, or her association with the infamously genocidal Khmer Rouge. Both she and Ronald Reagan stoutly defended not imposing sanctions on the country which not only treated the indigenous population like 4th class citizens, but routinely set about state terrorism and genocide”.