Like so many other Bajans I attempted to follow the recent motion of no confidence debate in the house (and the attendant parade that followed). I say "attempted" because in addition to finding the proceedings mildly nauseating, I couldn't really understand what was going on. Truth be told, I just don't get it!
I listened to the politicians and pundits who declared that the motion was unwinnable but a positive because it afforded the general population with a chance to see for themselves how government has truly performed (as if we're not already living it). Conversely I listened to the other politicians and pundits who claimed that the motion and the march which followed were the ill conceived political ploys of a party leader under seige (meh). I listened to as much of the actual debate as I could stand and even read the many reactions to it on social media... and I still don't get it.
To begin with, I have no idea which side presented the stronger case. How does one even gauge such a thing? How can the average politically ignorant citizen (like myself) know what to believe when, when politicians speak it, more often than not, sounds as if they are servicing an agenda? Facts in the mouths of politicians (the world over) are malleable and ductile and the lack of transparency in local politics puts fact checking a little out of the reach of the clueless layman.
I don't know what the intention of the opposition was in bringing the no confidence motion (well I do... but I don't), but I came away from the proceedings with feelings of no confidence not only in our government but in the entire political class. I got the distinct impression that our political machinery is in dire need of a competent mechanic.
It is clear that our politicians have (for the most part) become pointedly self-interested, myopic, disconnected, insensitive and complacent. How else does one explain reinstating the 10% cut from parlaimentarians salaries at a time when the population has been reduced to hand to mouthedness? What apart from insensitivity and disconnectedness can explain how MP Denis Kellman would think it was alright to post a Facebook rant that in essence chastised the electorate for being upset with the thoughtless decision of his party?
It is very easy for politicians to appear noble and altruistic when in the opposition, after all it is then that they can call for transparency in politics or extol the virtues of cooperating with the auditor general (random example :) ) or any number of other things that are promptly forgotten once they win the government. But what other than political self interest would cause the issue of the reinstated 10% (essentially a non issue that the public had already made its decisions about) to given prominence by the opposition? How does one explain objecting strenously to the idea of having to take a 10% cut in salary on the grounds that it makes no difference to the economy and then organising a protest march objecting to the reinstatement of the 10% because all of a sudden it makes a difference? Is it not complaceny that would lead you to believe that the citizenry would not notice the faint scent of insincerity and political expediency in the air?
I don't want to create the impression that I was disappointed by the debate. I am a devout practising cynic, I was not disappointed! The debate lived up to every one of my cynical expectations. I had anticipated a circus, complete with mental acrobats, and slieght of fact magic and ad homenim jousting and buck passers and flambouyant self serving puffery... I was not disappointed, I just don't get it... what was the point? What were people hoping to achieve? Who won? I have absolutely no clue!
It's not that I don't trust the analysts who have made declarations as to "won" the debate and what the impact of it was... or maybe it is precisely that... but clearly the yard in which one gets one's scratch grain deeply impacts one's analysis of things. And while I know in my heart that this is not the case with every analyist, I have no confidence in my ability to distinguish between people and fowls in people clothes. In addition it is impossible from my position, which is one of limited political understanding and no political affiliation, to decipher who "won" the debate. I have no idea what that even means... but it is very clear to me who lost.
I feel an (uncharacteristic) need to be fair to our politicians at this juncture: I do not, believe that all (or even most) of them entered into politics with misintent.I do, however believe that there is something horribly wrong with our political system inasmuch as it lacks checks and balances
and real consequences for malfeasance. It was inevitable that without such we would end up here. I believe that we the public have a responsibility to hold politicians to a much higher standard than we currently do and that we have a responsibility to find a voice greater than merely casting a vote every five friggin' years. That' if nothing else is what the motion of no confidence made very clear to me.
Nala (The $2 Philosopher)