“The time has come to talk of many things: of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings and why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings” – Walrus to the oysters (Through the looking glass and what Alice found there, 1852).
This quote from an obtuse but favored poem pretty much sums up how I feel about the discussion surrounding the Jamaican political landscape. Puzzled? Not for long: the walrus easily distracted willing oysters in a conversation of fancy while preparing to devour them.The same could be said of the analysis of the crushing 42 seat blow delivered by the Jamaican voters in support of the People’s National Party. Journalists have so far spent incalculable hours and days dissecting and trying to decipher the anatomy of the sound beating. No one has bothered to check on the silence.
Between the gloating and the weeping, the pontificating and the back room crossings of the aisle and all the other red herrings lies the apathetic Elephant ( or walrus) in the room.
Mounds of theories purport to explain the minds of the 52.76% who deigned to get their index finger and their feet wet- representing the lowest voter turnout in over 18 years- but relatively few have tackled the question of the mammoth 47% of Jamaicans who took the day off to cock up their collective feet instead.
Just so I’m not left out of the red herring loop here’s my 2 cents on the ones who voted and why: the Jamaican tolerance for shenanigans has reached an all time low. It’s ok to pillage and rape in times of plenty but absolutely not in times of scarcity. We also intensely dislike contempt. We have a 2 party mentality and as such when we don’t like one we simply vote for the other. Those who always vote voted but those new to voting did not. This is the real problem at hand.
The picture in a national newspaper summed it up for me. Nine young men wearing white shirts offering their vote for sale outside a polling station. Bittersweet protest of the fact that political mandates mean nothing to the lean and hungry. Lowering or raising interest rates, better or worse education, lowering or ignoring crime are all prospects for the future and doesn’t seem to apply to the now.
Survival is the only thing on the apathetic and indifferent minds of those who did not vote. Voting is a waste of time for those who fare better hustling for money while carrying a rachet- knife.
Years of waiting for various governments to get their promised acts off the ground have left us feeling jilted and has pushed us into hard scrabbling.
The mind of a hardscrabbler cares not for political handjobs, it only cares about money. So they would take the $2500 to turn up in a rally in a shirt only to leave said rally, collect another $2500 and turn up at another rally in a different shirt. No political alliance but $5000.00 to floss. Makes sense to me. I’ve bucked quite a few people who claimed to have pulled off this scam who were quite happy to collect and kiss their teeth at the stupidity of the politicians for allowing themselves to be scammed. At the end of the day we do what we must to survive.
The survival mode is only fueled by our apathy . We have lost hope in our governments and we have lowered our expectations. We are the equivalent of the abused woman who thinks her terrorist still loves her because he doesn’t kick her in her face. We actually may not believe we are loved at all but rather that it could be worse.
This behavior is as befuddling to the USA as it is to this psychologist. The wiki leaked cables have questioned our refusal to get up when we are clearly face down in the dirt since 2005. The result of the abused syndrome is the same: we stay because we fear the unknown, we stay because we expect nothing so why complain, and we refuse to vote because we do not believe our rights matter.
You see it doesn’t matter who is in power at this point, the majority of the populaces life will remain the same. No Machiavellian tactics can fix that. Its simply asinine at this point to ask Jamaicans to choose between pot and fire and the 47% chose neither. I may not agree with this stance but it is what it looks like from the outside.
Our history of refusing to confront a system we disagree with still keeps us company today. We are steeped in passive aggression. So we work a little slower, complain a little more on our street corners and verandas, all the while contemplating and planning how to get the hell out of dodge.
Sometimes though, but only sometimes, the apathetic and abused do rise and deliver a real blow to the perpetrators. What happened on December 29th was a direct result of apathy but ( I hope) it could also be the beginning of a silent and bloodless coup.