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THE GLOBAL ZONE: This goes beyond mere numbers. The political climate in Jamaica is gaining heat

By R.D. Miller

Ever since Mark Jefferson Golding became the leader of the People’s national Party (PNP) in November 2020, Jamaica’s motto, “out of many, one people,” has become a subject of political scrutiny.

The country is no stranger to heated elections; since its independence from British rule in 1962. Experts have often compared the battles between political parties to atmosphere-like tribes vying for territory.

No matter whether party is in power or who backed the previous election, many voters seem to swing like a pendulum, but not always smoothly.

Social status that often determine if one’s reach center stage in Jamaica’s class system, and political connection, but this time around, eligibility is the focus, raising conflicting questions.

Some politicians seem to be leveraging the challenger’s British dual citizenship and ignoring his Jamaican birth certificate. 

He recently mentioned according to local reports, that he need not choose one over the other. 

Critics argue he must publicly commit to Jamaica alone to lead the people. Many hope this is not a “Birther” debate like elsewhere.

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, United States, Edward Philip George Seaga, was a former prime minister of Jamaica, had Lebanese Jamaican parents.

Based on reports, Golding is running a strong campaign. The incumbent’s path to victory again, may have more holes than many local roads. 

Experts noted that Golding has a good chance of becoming Jamaica’s next prime minister. 

Sadly, the “us and them” mentality may stem from humans’ innate tendency to split the world into groups and favor their own, but this political strategy can be dangerous. 

Apparently, race or ethnicity is now a factor in the fight against crime, poverty, and corruption to develop the nation. 

Many who blamed rising inequality, corruption, and criminality for the then-political and economic turmoil are now asking what has changed since 2016. 

On this governmental surf board, political balance is constant.

Jamaicans faced challenges once again during the Holness administration in 2020 due to the economic impact of COVID-19, which has affected economies worldwide.

Despite the challenges it posed locally, it also brought to light the shortcomings in the health care and service sectors. 

Even with better roads and technology today, if you have not driven on one, have internet access, or have running water, there’s hope.

It depends on your economic status. Six years later, income disparity and a generational transformation that led to victory, now saying the party experience to deliver on pledges.

In 2016, experts pointed out that the electorate needed a new route from the PNP, longstanding politician Portia Simpson-Miller. 

Despite voter opinion, especially on the other side, then-Prime Minister Simpson-Miller’s victory over a male-dominated system was a great achievement for Jamaica and women.

Jamaica had another election in 2020 during the pandemic, which the opposition deemed unwise. Despite P.M. Holness’ internal discord, the JLP used Dr. Phillips, low-polls to their advantage as rivals perceived him as part of the previous system. 

Andrew Holness was sworn in as prime minister for a second term on September 7, 2020.

What would a third term entail, given that the same questions have persisted for decades under both parties, particularly concerning the marginalized? What has changed?

Commentators predict that the 2025 general election will be a referendum once more, testing the administration’s authority as another fight approaches the ring.

The primary question is, what have you done for me recently, and how do new voters into both sides’ daily calculations long-term? 

Campaigning for the 2025 general election will be different. Visits to local shops, cash distribution, dominoes, dancing to tunes, and temporary road repairs will not win either side. 

Today’s voters are dynamic, media-savvy, and willing to work with dedicated party members to improve their lives, their parents’ lives, and the community. 

Fortunately, they are also able to discern what party is saying, “Thank you, Jah, for what you have provided with the JLP,” while others are shouting Bob Marley’s line, “Even though the rain is falling, the ground is still tough, and a hungry person becomes an angry person.”

We can print, post, or share your statistic, numbers, or headline on social media too.

Critics now argued while then-Prime Minister Simpson-Miller was learning the internet, charismatic rival Andrew Holness was like a vanguard of technology, especially among younger people, and masterfully controlled the narrative that was so critical in his 2016 triumph.

Today is different, and in a similar fashion to the JLP in 2016, the PNP team has taken to social media to challenge the JLP’s narrative on various issues by sharing their own data and figures. 

Both sides will release polls, favorability ratings, local income, economic growth, infrastructure spending, taxes, finished buildings, trade deficits, healthcare development, school safety, jobs, poverty, unemployment rate, new roads, national growth, and more likely before the 2025 election.

Today appears to be the best photo-ops contest. Unfortunately, if one party attends a local school or travels overseas within 48 hours, it seems the other does too. 

A voter said, “Both parties brag about the drop-in crime rates, inflation, and list of achievements over the past ten years or more, but I can’t see it on my side of town.” 

“We saw Haitian Deportation and Chinese immigrants arriving.”

What is in it for me now? “What have you done for me lately?”

 “People will forget what you said and did, but never how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou.

Today voters expect results and accountability. Many are tired of upward mobility feeling like a lottery to advance and enhance one’s life.

Young college graduates must decide whether to immigrate to avoid intellectual loss or underemployed with economic uncertainty.

“Every day is a never-ending struggle to navigate the treacherous landscape of maintaining how to pay back a student loan,” a student said. 

They are concern about buying a home in the expensive real estate market after college. They know about the school safety meeting since many of their parents are teachers.

Even when professionals signal a drop in crime, the dispute over perception and reality continues. They are aware of the funerals performed for young victims murdered by criminals. 

Fear is closing many shops early, limiting street sellers and making block party licenses tougher to get.

The escalating prices of essential food items, such as finding a loaf of bread you bought a year ago for double the price and significantly less in size, is frustrating not only in Jamaica.

The recently issued US$150 million catastrophic insurance disaster bond may not matter to voters though it is important.

Mental health, substance abuse, and career opportunities for the overlooked must be addressed by the government, even though it cannot fix everything quickly. 

The other neighborhood on this side of town? 

Disrupting and dividing once-close communities with politics never works. You failed, not them! 

In what seems to be a hostile political climate, some voters are blocking roads that have hurt local businesses to attract public authorities’ attention to neighborhood issues.

Many expats, some of who are oral historians, expressed sadness about the ongoing behavior for decades.” Politicians often give money and alcohol to clean up trash, the tension dies down until another election draws near, but this is unsustainable.” 

A monthly election seems vital for progress. Unfortunately, many people vote without considering their long-term well-being, waiting excitedly for the outcome as poverty rises! 

After most elections, shops increase prices, schools and hospitals need repairs, including road upkeep, and community conflict persists. Economic survival seems to be limited to the wealthy and connected. 

Despite the rain to summarize Bob’s song. But those without the means to plant seeds—the impoverished in particular—are frequently ignored as though there had been a drought.

Hovering near the ballot box; foreigners peering in: 

Recently, on May 10, 2024, many expats marched in New York to protest export fees, crime, the economy, and corruption. According to a local outlet, many pundits say it has not shaken the government, and they were unpatriotic.

Despite what it failed to capture, remittances and other disposable resources have helped the countries prosper and contribute to the overall GDP. 

Like competitive sports, Jamaican elections demand strict control. Even when injured, many athletes must play on, especially if their competition is ahead. 

Both sides appear more interested in fighting than addressing problems. As each side attempts to discredit each other.

Skepticism of politicians, government, and media persists. Many communities are skeptical about moving the nation forward through change and compromise. 

While thoughts on the future of this lovely country and who will win the next election differ, the amount of people who turned out in the rain may have influenced non-voters, whether via heritage or an interest to watch the local news. 

Except for people who share what data works from both sides, few voters will stop playing dominoes to analyze socioeconomic facts. 

The next Prime Minister may be determined by one’s perception of their possibility, besides by sheer numbers.


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