What Separates Us?

| 20/05/2010

Often in dictatorial regimes posing as democratic systems, elections are held but often rigged, composed of one choice or any opposition is expelled or intimidated. The defining difference(among lesser ones) between a democracy and dictatorship is the ability to hold elections where citizens are freely allowed to vote for representatives.

Often in these elections, rather than people running for office independently they associate themselves with a political party. The party hierarchy itself then appoints a leader and, if successful in an election, that person will then hold the highest office in the land and over the course of their tenure will proceed to enact policies. These policies will, of course, reflect the ones held by the party which won the majority of the support of the voters. Therefore, they have in some way formed those policies.

Sounds good on paper, doesn’t it? However one question rarely asked in all the excitement of election time is: what information are people basing their votes on? In most cases it’s very scanty. I would say that’s being kind because in the majority of cases it’s non- existent.

Yet for the next four years, all policies and major decisions will be directed and steered by a particular political party and its leader with very little recourse, if any, for the voting public if they should happen to "stray" from these "perceived" policies. On occasion in this situation, especially if many of the policies were not clearly stated or are contrary to previous election banter, people can begin to get the feeling that what they have is closer to a dictatorship. Yet, remembering back, they were allowed to vote. So it becomes confusing and often frustrating, not only for the people, but for those who have assumed positions as their representatives. Then, the blaming begins.

The confused representatives blame the people for not giving them sufficient support for their policies. But, also remembering back in all the excitement, many of these policies weren’t clearly stated or not stated at all. Whose fault is that? Is it the people for not asking or the representatives for forgetting? That is an important question, as crucial as the statement often made when this blaming and complaining begins, that peopleget the governments they deserve.

That can’t be said, of course, for a dictatorship because people weren’t given a choice, so obviously they don’t deserve what they get. But even after a democratic election, people say they don’t deserve what they’ve got, or that somehow something was lost in translation between the election and what they’ve got now.

Speaking of deserving, no one deserves this – governments intent on moving things forward don’t deserve this and the people certainly don’t.

Where does this problem begin? If an election is based solely on discrediting another party and if that’s all we hear then it should come as no surprise to any political party or any leader when later their policies and their decisions receive the same treatment from people who weren’t given any details of their policies or foreknowledge of their decisions. For want of a better term, I call this "governing by surprise".

It has seemed to me that in order for democracy to work as intended the people we elect need to begin to prove to themselves, and to us, that there is a very definitive difference between the system we are operating under and a dictatorship. Dictatorships are full of surprises, so those differences must be so obvious and so important as to prevent confusion. The most direct way to that and to preventing future confusion and animosity would be to simply state major policy and programs during an election. Put it on the table and state them with as much detail as possible (devoid of rhetoric). Then if the choice is made to follow those policies, they can be guaranteed the support of at least some and hopefully the majority of citizens. No surprises either.

The fragile and wonderful differences between democracy and dictatorships is that all the transactions that take place between our governments and ourselves are recognized as precious and worthy of protection, and until ALL OF US recognize how fragile they are, they have to be watched over carefully by government … and the people. We have equal responsibility.

Relax Mr Premier! When we bloggers act surprised, rattle on sometimes and disagree, we are trying to do that. Nothing separates us and nothing can separate us from our love of our nation – except sometimes ourselves.


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Category: Viewpoint

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  1. Independent person of no political persuasion says:

    Aren’t many of the votes here in Cayman based on who gives them a free handout at election time?  This ‘gifts for votes’ technique should be illegal and carry a hefty fine if the law is disregarded.

  2. free man dis says:

    In case you all missed this point. Cayman IS a country where most of the people living here are not giving a choice in who gets to spend their money and on what (or in this case who) it gets spent on.  Or more simply put how many of those who put all the money government gets to spend gets to vote?  Right now those that do get to vote for just the lesser of 2 evils instead of someone or some group that actually has the morals, experience or competence to do the job.  Hence to completely incompetent and morally corrupt leadership Cayman has to live with today. Note to Current leadership: Just because I am anti-idiot dosen’t mean you should be anti-freedom of speech but thanks for speaking your mind.