For a while, I thought I was a Democrat, but recent developments have left me feeling that no political party in America represents me.
In Jamaica, both political parties evolved from the trade union movement, and both share basic principles with which I agree. I would sum up their mission as the desire to make the lives of Jamaicans – especially Jamaican working people – more tolerable.
Before there were political parties in Jamaica, there was the British Empire and Jamaica was governed by an appointee of the British government. Jamaican independence grew out of the activities of the trade unions – Bustamante’s and Manley’s (historical clipping below is from 1955).
It was Busta’s agitation that pushed the British government to grant Jamaicans adult suffrage in the mid-1940s. And I remember the first general election in which everyone over 21 could vote. That was the beginning of politics in Jamaica, and it was working people’s politics. There was a feeble attempt to start a political party for “the middle class” but it got nowhere. I think it was called the Jamaica Democratic Party and I recall a candidate named Gerald Mair representing it, but it had no impact on the elections or on Jamaican political history.
Coming from that environment, I found Canada uncomfortably conservative when I immigrated to Ontario in 1957. Canada’s Liberal Party seemed to represent the business community and Quebec, and the “Progressive Conservatives” seemed to be nothing more than a front for the stuck-up British immigrants and their descendants. When the trade unions formed the New Democratic Party in the early Sixties I was one of the first people to sign up.
I’m telling you all this to explain why I feel politically unrepresented now that I live in America.
How do I make sense of President Obama’s administration? What Jamaican politician would dare to promote offshore drilling at the expense of the environment? Or hand over billions to the banks while common people are being thrown out of their homes? Or send drones to blow up goat herders in Yemen?
From my perspective, America’s first black President is too conservative to be elected in Jamaica. Or Canada. He might be elected in Britain, though. After, all Margaret Thatcher was.
Yet he is a liberal compared with the Blue Dog Democrats. To me, those politicians are pawns of America’s oppressive ruling class. They belong right up there with the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute and those other think tanks founded by far-right zealots who spend billions to promote their cause.
And incredibly, the Blue Dog Democrats are left of the mainstream Republicans, who are left of the Tea Party activists – and so on. America is home to the most rabid right-wing political ideology on earth. Some Americans are so fascist that they are prepared to shoot you if you disagree with their beliefs.
In this surreal political climate, it’s no wonder America’s recovery from President Bush’s Great Recession is taking place without producing jobs. No party represents the working man and woman in America. All political parties represent Big Business.