By Hensley Daniel
In listening to some of the comments from voters, there are expressions such as: all politicians are the same; they want to use people to get to power and then forget them; they want the opportunity to victimize people who they do not like; they are only concerned about themselves; they are money gluts; they are corrupt.
As a result of these perceptions, about thirty per cent of voters generally do not vote. There is much evidence of excesses by politicians in Caribbean societies. Further, some politicians criticize others for wrong doing but end up doing the same thing. For instance, I heard a Minister of Government criticizing John Ash, Antigua’s former United Nations Ambassador who has been linked to a bribery and corruption scandal. But the same Minister was the Director of a company that was set up for fraud. As such, one of the directors of the said company has been charged, convicted and jailed for fraud committed by the company.
I am not willing to agree that politics is necessarily dirty. Politics is often defined as the art of the possible but I like Lloyd Best’s definition that it is organized private activity for public good. There is nothing inherent in these discussions which make politics dirty.
I am prepared to argue that those politicians who are described as corrupt had it in their hearts all along to do wrong and politics provided a golden opportunity so to do. They simply wear their mask to hide their evil intentions. It reflects what social psychologists call the presentation of self in everyday life.
When politicians use their awesome power to victimize opponents and people they do not like, even a brief look at their history would reveal incidents along the way to power where they used their influence to sideline others. The malice, the ill will and the hatred they harbor for opponents are enhanced by politics.
Politics provides an opportunity to be corrupt and selfish but it also allows for caring and good conduct. It also facilitates good governance and brings about meaningful social and economic development.
There are still honest and self-effacing politicians who are genuinely concerned about the welfare and wellbeing of the people they represent.
Politics is not necessarily dirty. Unscrupulous, incompetent and dishonest people often end up in politics, thereby making it difficult for capable and decent people to make a contribution.