The choices voters make at elections in any free democracy mothball into the social and economic outcomes of a country or territory, all things being equal.
The choices made by a country’s government chart the course of that country. Choices lead to both positive and negative outcomes. Therefore, choices are critical for good governance, especially choices that are honest. Good or poor governance begins with voters recognising virtue, honesty and leaders who can be trusted.
The direct result of honest governance and good policy decisions made in the crucible of integrity is a country or territory that is safe and prosperous. Good governance is a great legacy for future generations.
A controversial notion is that honesty is a difficult choice in a culture that rewards dishonesty. There is validity in that assertion. However, that the honest choice is always the best choice over the long term is standard opinion and undisputed. Ethical governance is good governance.
That there is dishonesty in Virgin Islands’ working and business culture is also undisputed. This appears to be the outcome of the growth of tourism and financial services. Economic prosperity has driven moral decline.
Now, there is a song and dance every few months on the leadership of the VI and the choices of politicians and decisionmakers. The territory possesses a lively and engaged media culture that is tumultuous — even vicious.
However, given the opportunity, voting residents go into an election and repeat the same patterns of placing people in power because these characters talk a good talk, sing a great song, and possess even greater footwork.
Moreover, the party system is perfect in ensuring the territory repeatedly makes the same choices — though “mistakes” may be a better word. The party system, from simple observation of the model, is here to stay, and it is a Catch-22 indeed. A party system entrenches both the flaws and virtues of a country or territory’s politics. A party system, once established, is often permanent. That is a lesson of political science and history.
Then a commentator goes on the radio and a media personality drives a “juicy” narrative. Eventually, all are hypnotised and repeat the person’s mantras and fairy tales. Voters make a choice.
Five years down the line, after an election, the people cry foul: “Give the red card, for heaven’s sake,” they shout.
They were deceived, they claim. Nevertheless, poor — if not dishonest —choices placed the territory in that place. The preceding is a very common song.
Another cliché is appropriate: “You get the leaders you deserve.”
This observer has long stopped blaming leaders who are the simple result of voters’ choices. The reality is that the leadership of a land is a reflection of the root, trunk and branch. This may appear extreme, but the leader and the voter share a symbiotic relationship, with both joined at the hip.
However, tyrannies are tyrannies because the masses accept the rule of the tyrant — even love him. Corrupt states possess populations that turn a blind eye to public theft, not realising their kids and grandkids will pay down the line. Successful democracies, on the other hand, contain voters who refuse to tolerate low ethical standards from their leaders.
Shortly, in just a matter of weeks, voters in the VI will make a choice. For all the talk in the media, which is a good thing, the voter will decide.
Recent history is a great guide. The voter has a narrative of the near past to observe. If the voter gets it wrong in the upcoming elections, there will be no one to blame. Look back ten years at least, and that is a good guide of what and who to choose for the next ten.
Ignore the soothsayers and prophets. Their hold on the public has been a disaster, and their predictions are mostly absurd. Flee the commentator with swagger and a dubious background; ignore the empty rhetoric; look for honesty in candidates. Honesty offers a better return for the voter.
Think! Vote with a logical head and a strong heart, and leave the fairy tales for little children.
Getting it wrong is an option, but do not then lament a poor choice. Finally, do understand that a country or territory gets the leaders it deserves.
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