The Missing Link within the Jamaican Democratic Experience.

Jamaican Democratic Experience
Jamaican Democratic Experience

In the ideal democratic sense, the simple aim of an electoral system is to offer a structured, secure and accessible mechanism for a collection of people to be able to equally vote for their choice of political candidate. However, certain factors affect the efficiency at which an electoral system is able to reflect the genuine desire of the majority. Many of these factors are associated with the nature of traditional political campaigns within democracies. The most prominent shortcoming of the present campaign model is its clear susceptibility to manipulation by rich people whom many politicians depend on to fund their campaigns. The State Structured Campaign Model is a campaign model that offers all political candidates equal opportunity to be elected regardless of finances, party allegiance or special connections.

FACTORS THAT AFFECT ELECTION ACCURACY
Plutocracy

Remember that an election is aimed at allowing the people to vote for the best political candidate available. However, from experience we may develop the view that elections don’t always lead to the people voting for the best candidate. There are multiple factors that affect the efficiency at which elections accurately reflect the selection of the best candidates. Factors such as a politician’s dependence on the rich for campaign donations affect the accuracy of elections because people are likely to be swayed by the person with the biggest campaign budget rather than the person with the best ideas on how to govern the nation.

Media Shortsightedness

Another factor which affects the accuracy at which elections elect the best candidates is the shortsightedness of the media which fails to equally focus on candidates who are not aligned to the two major political parties. During an election, it is very evident that the media disproportionately feature the candidates associated with the PNP and JLP while most times completely neglecting third party and independent candidates. Although the media now facilitates input from the NDM, the many alternative political candidates in Jamaica rarely get covered by the media in a country where it is clear that politics could use a few new faces.

Campaigns Based on Distraction

The ideal political campaign is one where all the candidates for a particular public office go on a stage in front of the people and discuss what they have planned for the country if elected and have the people vote for the candidate with the best ideas. However, what we have seen is a deviation from the issues and more focus on entertainment and competitive amusement to attract voters, most of whom are already diehard candidates. By not focusing on the issues and deviating from debate and discussions, there is no way that the people can be informed of the best candidate and make their decisions accordingly. Therefore the accuracy of elections is compromised by distractive nature of our current campaign model.

Mentality of the People

Another prevailing factor which affects the capacity for the people to elect the best candidates is in fact the general mentality of the people themselves. The people (especially in the Jamaican context), tend to have developed a subordinating mentality towards politics by having somewhat of a Stockholm Syndrome towards the established parties and the same corrupt and self-serving politicians. Although the people know that the majority of politicians are either corrupt or primarily loyal to their party instead of the people, they still choose to support them rather than to give the opportunity to a third party or independent candidate. This adoration for established politicians and the two dominant political parties (JLP and PNP) force the people to subconsciously resort to voting for the parties and politicians whom they are accustomed to rather than to “try something new”.

WHAT IS THE STATE STRUCTURED CAMPAIGN MODEL?

Imagine that the PNP, JLP, NDM, UIC and Independent candidates for the Westmoreland Central constituency were given equal TV time on TVJ and CVM to discuss their plans for the constituency. Imagine if those same candidates where given an equal segment in the Observer and Gleaner newspapers to discuss who they are and what they have to offer to the constituency. Imagine now that those same candidates are given a stage with 5 podiums in the town square to appeal to the public equally and to take questions from the people. Now imagine if those candidates are not required to source any campaign funding whatsoever because the EOJ and the media are responsible for setting up the entire campaign. That is the State Structured Campaign Model (SSC Model) in its simplified version.

By definition, the State Structured Campaign Model or SSC Model is a campaign model which allows each candidate vying for a public office the right to equal media and public exposure to communicate their ideas (platform) to the electorates and the public in general. The State Structured Campaign Model consists of a state sponsored campaign system whereby each candidate vying for a public office is given equal Television, radio, newspaper and public exposure to debate political issues and communicate their platform to the electorates. Under this campaign model there will be no need for campaign donations which will end the control that the rich exerts over career politicians through their dependence on money to be elected. In fact with this new system, financial donations to political candidates can be made illegal, therefore closing a long exploited loophole within the democratic experience.

The structure of the SSC Model forces the media to equally represent all candidates in an election and not just disproportionately focus on the candidates of the two major parties. By this effect the media is forced to inform and alert the public of all the candidates running in an election and the ideas (platform) that they advocate.

The organized and formal structure of campaigns under the SSC Model encourages Jamaicans to contemplate issues rather than to react to vulgar and distracting motorcades and the usual “bashment” campaigning. By putting an end to the lavish campaigns and organizing the campaign process to focus on issues, the people will have less basis to resort to politically motivated acts of violence and will get accustomed to focusing on the issues overtime.

The social uproar and the political violence associated with political campaigns will be decreased or extinguished completely by structuring and simplifying political campaigns. The extremely sensitive act of transferring political power within a society is made easier and more civilized with the SSC Model. The SSC Model also exposes candidates who lack leadership capacity but can generate popularity regardless, thereby preventing Jamaican democracy from becoming a popularity contest and more of a contest based on quality of leadership. The political system will be innovated so that our leaders are selected by merit and not by money.

The Stockholm Syndrome mentality of the people can be remedied by the SSC Model which equally endorses all candidates whether PNP or NDM. This allows the people the freedom to escape their mental slavery by conveniently analyzing the different political alternatives to the JLP and PNP which will be made known to them through the media.

Another impact of this campaign model is that the people will be more efficiently represented while being exposed to direct and objective political discussions which will seek to inform rather than to entertain or distract them. This evolution in the electoral process will strengthen the entire political framework of the state of Jamaica and other states around the world that choose to adopt the SSC Model.

By Toraino Beckford

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