Coalition for Change or Cliches?

| 22/11/2012

We need change. That is perhaps the most over-utilized, though greatly misunderstood understatement of the past three and a half years. Yet it is an honest sentiment, expressed in earnest by a disillusioned, worried and at times even despairing citizenry. Given the circumstances, it should be no surprise that any person or group who proclaims to stand for change and for improvement will perk up eagerly listening ears and even command the attention of a people who wait with baited breath for “they” who will personify this illusive “change”.

It was with such hope that hundreds made their way to the AL Thompson parking lot on Monday night to see and hear for themselves what exactly this Coalition for Cayman was all about and how they proposed change.

Two hours, six speeches, three servings of chicken, one t-shirt and two miniature flags later, there are still many who feel as lost and confused as they were upon arrival.

Taking the Coalition at its word that it is interested in hearing feedback, here are some of the key things that stood out as problematic:

A call for change; a throwback to the status quo. Anyone who is hoping for a crowd knows the age old motto “If you feed them, they will come”. T-shirts and other paraphernalia also provide additional enticement to attend an event. After all, who doesn’t like a “gimme! gimme!”? Yet if we are claiming to want change, why not start it off right from the get-go and do without the trappings altogether? Strip down to your core and stand on the strength of your message. If it is strong, it will not need the window dressing.

More disturbing than the internal debate which being offered a miniature flag evoked (Will accepting this mean agreement with a message that is yet to be delivered and a cause yet to be unveiled? Will a refusal be taken as lack of commitment to my country and people?) was the tradeoff for the t-shirt: sign up for the cause and get a free T.  Following blindly without full understanding of the issues, arguments and other important factors is what has gotten us in this mess, is it not? How then is it not contradictory to ask people to join something that has yet to be explained, much less properly digested and understood? No member or volunteer who was helping out at the booth could satisfactorily explain what were considered “important issues” by the Coalition and many times the “they’ll explain it in the speeches” came up as an answer.

It is important to differentiate between asking people to sign up to “learn more” versus signing up to “join” the cause. While many would gladly do the first so as to be kept abreast of developments and possibly gain a better understanding in the process, by now we should all be weary of signing our names on the dotted line as supporters or helpers or members of a group that we do not fully understand.

… add a dash of “God fearing” political mileage. Over the course of the past three and a half years we, Christians and non-Christians alike, have witnessed first-hand how the manipulation of Christianity by the political leadership has made a mockery of Christian faith. We have seen Christianity reduced to the smoke and mirrors that diverts attention to the real crises at hand. We have experienced the slippery slope where political rallies are reminiscent of Sunday service, and appealing to one’s religious beliefs is just another tactic to stir up emotion and evade accountability. That has been the way it is. Change is taking back our faith from the political arena altogether.

Ignoring the baby elephant’s memory. It was not quite four years ago when the very venue that so patriotically declared “Country First” on Monday night was strewn in green and blue, and over the munching of even more free food, the waving of glossy pamphlets, and the excited “Amens” emanating from the crowd, the fervor of those who now make up our government was heard over the speakers as they proclaimed "A Better Way Forward".  Yet, though that very fact was commented upon anonymously on websites like CNS and even whispered among participants conspiratorially, it was ignored outright at the event.

Of course, individuals in a democracy are able to freely change their minds as often as they want, to support anyone whom they choose, or withdraw support for whatever reason is right for them.  However, be not shocked that failing to acknowledge history or to attempt to explain the more visible ‘change(s) of heart’ with broad statements like “disillusionment with the party system” is just not good enough for those who have real doubts and who worry that those who are at the forefront are a mere facelift for the proverbial ‘establishment’.

Speaking of the elephant in the parking lot … Running for office is not an easy thing, especially not here in Cayman. From the potential for being “blacklisted” for expressed views if not elected, to the real taxing effect on one’s family, and numerous other reasons which we don’t fully acknowledge or speak of, putting oneself out there as a candidate takes a lot of courage.

Yes, we understand that Coalition for Cayman will not be “fielding” candidates as such but will instead “endorse” those whom it feels will put “country first” when making decisions. However, and again, it has to be stated that it was a missed opportunity to completely ignore the question that is still on most people’s minds: which of those persons associated with this Coalition intends to run for office?

Playing coy when a decision has been made, as is the perception with several persons identified as members of the Coalition, is doing the potential candidate and the people a disservice. It’s a game. It’s more of the same. It’s exhausting.

Lastly (ironically) deciphering “Country First”. “Country First” is a brilliant slogan, most recently used by US Presidential candidate John McCain in the 2008 US elections. In fact, USA Today reported on it at the time, claiming that “[p]olitically, the Country First theme has the advantage of focusing voters on the country rather than on a party led by an unpopular president.”

“Country First” is strong enough to evoke deep, sentimental meaning for the collective and just vague enough to mean different things to different people. What does it mean to put “Country First” as understood by the Coalition for Cayman?

Those who stand behind the ForCayman Investment Alliance’s proposal see their claim for job creation for hundreds of Caymanians over a “mere road diversion” as putting “Country First”.  The Concerned Citizens group from West Bay believes that fighting to preserve our heritage and stop our government from “selling our country to the highest bidder” is putting “Country First”.
The point is this: we’ve tried cryptic for the past three and a half years and it didn’t take. Don’t play to empty, misguided shows of patriotism.

The one thing that was clear from the meeting was that party politics was blamed as the main (possibly sole) reason for our failings as a nation. That is an over simplification of what is a much more complex problem which has deep historical and cultural roots that we romanticize or overlook altogether.  Love them or hate them, the fact of the matter is that parties are made up of people, and those people make choices. To blame "party politics" for the direction of our country, our inability to hold leaders accountable, and even for the breakdown of communication at the family dinner table is to take away the responsibility from the individuals and cast it into the nameless, faceless collective.

Any individual who freely joins a collective – be it a party, team, coalition, union, organisation, religious group, etc – and who turns over his/her right to think for him/herself, chooses to believe that which he/she is being told without question or thought, and who feels unable or is unwilling to disagree and voice his/her opinion for the sake of unity, personal stake or gain, or reputation is making a choice. 

If we want change, we must stop making excuses and take personal responsibility for all our choices, from accepting that refrigerator/job/scholarship, to toeing the party line and following like sheep, to the tick of the box inside that voting booth.

We may not be a large group, but there are a number of us voters who want more than the clichés, more than the slogans, more than dressing. We want real discussions about the issues. We want to challenge the old guard. We want to work towards the cultural changes – for that is what will be required, as uncomfortable as it makes us – which will turn this into a truly *participatory* democracy where our people are *educated* on the issues, *mindful* of their power, and *unafraid* to fulfill their civic duties. 

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Comments (43)

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  1. ???? says:

    How has this girl not been nominated for the YCLA? 

    • Anonymous says:

      People have offered to nominate her but she has politely declined!

  2. Anonymous says:

    It is very funny that most who have heard the C4C "message" so far but arent associated with the group have challenged them to do just what Carolina has said.

    All you can hear is wait, soon come. That is a poor excuse from a group claiming to be a public advocacy organisation. Both C4C and PPM should have a plan for the public to scrutinize and then get behind whichever Group/Party they think align with their viewpoints.

    How can anyone choose to join or follow something when they dont know where or how they will be led. It is the same muppet, zombie, sheep connotation they are throwing around about the party followers.

    The people are yearning for clear plans of action to the major problems the country is facing, not fluff and show. 

    If there second showing is more of the same then it will be hard to look at this group as a serious agent for change and see them as just another player making a power grab.

    • Anonymous says:

      I say do away with all the political parties in this country we were better without them.  In my opinion the only members in the current LA that have the interest of the country above self and party politics are the member from NS and EE and neither are members of the C4C and PPM. 

    • Process is important says:

      The PPM is a political party with a constitution and with a pocess to be followed. This calls for candidates to be nominated and to be voted on by the district branch membership. It also calls for there to be a Party Conference where the leadership would be confirmed and also where the Manifesto will be presented and ratified by the members. So The Hon Mr Mclaughlin is correct that he can only present the manifesto to the public only after reveiving the approval of the Party members at the Conference.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Carolina you have hit all the nails on their heads. It's not parties that has our country in the condition that it is in it is independent rule by a dictator and either other people who he has something on afraid to stand up.

    What can a minority opposition do besides debate in the house to no avail?

    We have so many dissatisfied  in our community that feel a ray of hope should be given an ear. Listen and analyze as them why they supported UDP up to the last election.

    These sour grapes youngsters thought they could control the demon and now that they realize that he is on to bigger money that they had to offer they jump into the political ring themselves.

    BEWARE of wolves in sheep clothing with their syrupy sweet talk. I am one they won't be able to sway

  4. Truth says:

    Now all thats missingis a Caymanian willing to stand up and fight against the past Caymanian way of doing things and show a new way that they can still call their own.

    Is there no one else?  Is there no one else?  If there is no one else then this is all for nothing.  Stand up for your people or sit down and let the UK show you how to do it their way.  Truly your choice.  For now.

    • Anonymous says:

      Until great leaders like the late Ms. Annie Hulda Bodden, Dr. Roy McTaggart  J.M. Bodden and Orman Panton come forward who were willing to risk it all for the greater good of this country and its people this country will always be beholding and lacking in morals and ethical standards. These men and woman althought not perfect were the standard bearers for Caymanians politics, they left legacies we can be proud of and had we followed in the general footsteps of these leaders our islands would have been more matured, of better quality and character and much stronger as a people today.

    • Anonymous says:

      I would recommend Mr. Tim Ridley to be the next Premier of these islands.   He is an educated fair minded, above board individual who could condition Cayman out of the old way of doing business (and current mess).  Just read his his Viewpoint articles first published in 2009 and posted again on Monday 08/06/2012 "Fixing Cayman's Financial Problems".  This is the kind of person that is needed at this juncture along with a few others.  Cayman needs the truth not the usual feel good illusions.  Mr. Ridley lives in the real world, with real solutions.   Again, in my opinion the only person I see qualified to salvage the financial industryand our tourism product is Mr. Ridley.   Caymanians had better move beyond the politics of the good ole days and into the politics of reality with Mr. Ridley at the helm.

  5. Anonymous says:

    No matter who gets in, I have a horrible feeling the day after the election will be like the film "The Hangover". Cayman will wake up with a missing tooth, married to a prostitute, and with a tiger roaming the streets.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Until corruption is ended in this country nothing good will happen. If this group is serious about being for Cayman then they will make some commitments to get rid of corruption.

    • Anonymous says:

      16:47 i would like to know which country it is that corruption has ended this sounds familar to me, we will get rid of poverty, we will get rid of crime ,we will get rid of git rid of ,what a joke can you ever git rid of these things? i suggest that you have a function and get rid of the food that will work i think.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Bahhhh bahhhhh just tell me what to think already!

  8. A Concerned Citizen says:

    BEST VIEWPOINT EVER! 

    • Anonymouse Man says:

      Yes best view point ever. I too, am a little bit disappointed in the C$C, as they appear to want to uphold the law, be honest and end corruption. However the very first objective of this group is to supporrt and endorse independent political canditdates seeking office in the next general elcetion. But this support will actually result in candidates breaking the election law to get elected. Because there is just no way that a single candidate can carry out an independent campaign without breaching the celinig for election expenses.

      Are they prepared to break any other rules?

  9. !!! says:

    Reading the comments to this viewpoint I have to wonder what exactly those who are offended or disagree with it are thinking.

    It would be easier to "wait and see" if this was a truly "grassroots" movement, where people were coming together with limited time and resources.  Clearly, from the show that was put on monday night, that is not the case.  There is a whole lotta $$$ behind this, so forgive us for wanting more than just fluff!

    Seriously, people have to be commended for sticking around after the  "Good evening my crosstalk followers!" opening that boomed through the loud speakers.  There was so much ego coming from your MC, c4c, that it's a wonder there was oxygen left for anyone else on stage.

    Anyone that graduated from the Foolio School of Gab needs to be scrutinised carefully.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Why so skepital and crtical Carolina?

    its just a citizens watchdog group: exists in many other jurisdictions

    and its shocking to see how violently the parties have reacted to the idea of being held accountable! Lord alive I thought Alden was going to bust a blood vessel….

  11. Anonymous says:

    Wow! That is the most articulate and refreshing political commentary that has been posted to date. It is a sad reflection on our society that so many people are willing and ready to jump on a undefined bandwagon with shadow leadership, undeclared motives, and no clear direction. Only the truth will setus free.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Well said Carolina.

    We need political candidates that make specific commitments to the people. Commitments like amendments to strengthen our ant-corruption laws and funding for the Anti-corruption commission to make sure that never again does this country have to go through what it is still going through.

    Until those specific commitments are made there is no reason to think that this group is any better than the current parties – they are just different people who also refuse to come out with specific proposals against corruption, patronage and waste.

  13. Knot S Smart says:

    Oh Car-O-Lina….

  14. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Carolina! I too am ready to be led by a government that is honest, truthful and concerned about the overall good of the island and its people without all the games and hidden agendas.

    • Anonymous says:

      Excellent viewpoint Carolina.

      I was astounded Wednesday morning when an admitted member of the C4C group called the Rooster talk show where the Leader of the Opposition and PPM party chairman were the guests, and outright asked for the PPM to step aside.  I could not beleive the audacity!

      Knowing who is involved in the C4C and the above statement has really got me thinking.

  15. mactator hater says:

     

    Carolina makes sense with her views as she was curious and went out to the event hoping to learn more about the movement. Knowing her personally I know she doesn’t vote for a party but for individuals that represent her views or views she feels comfortable with. If she were to choose a followingwhat I thought C4C should have been, an advocacy group, as to what it is, which is a political collective of individuals (party) that is trying to promote their views as they push candidates of their choosing. Once you promote names of persons and ask them to run under your banner you are a party. Like it or not. If you were a forum for expression of views and a grouping that advocated for the a certain standard and even advocate for honesty and a better way forward without choosing or asking persons to vote for a particular candidate, then you could honestly say you were a coalition for change. But as Carolina points out you have to state what you are about and we know you are playing the people, as your intent is to select people to run for office under your guidance. The people already know that Austin plans on running as well, but just using airtime to try to persuade the public against the party system and continue to get paid as again Carolina points out is still needed for him to survive. So I don’t blame him for continuing to use his position and to ensure he still has a job until the last minute, but lets not take the population for fools. Lets not play with their minds. YOU ARE A PARTY. 

  16. Anonymous says:

    Excellent viewpoint, hits the nail on the head. The US has their Koch brothers that took advantage of a certain sentiment to form a party to support their exploitative agenda and we have our own behind the scenes operators ready to fan the flames of anti party sentiment while hoping the less sophisticated will not see through the charade. Advocacy groups do not endorse political candidates – parties do.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I must have attended a different event. The message that I got was that the party system had divided the country and was an obstacle to uniting the country and applying its resources to real solutions. That this would best be achieved by individuals who put the needs of the country before the wants of a party. Also that the group would provide an additional view regarding whether they felt any independent candidate had the right qualities and priorities. They also committed to provide good information to successful candidates when needed to make informed decisions and to act as a watchdog if they felt MLAs were not acting in the best interest of the country. The speakers were also clear that the group was still researching the issues through the use of sub-committees and asked for all to be involved in the process and in creating suggested solutions. This is so refreshing. It is a sign of how jaded we have become when a message of hope can be distilled into a litany of negativity.

  18. Anonymous says:

    great view point…. cayman needs honesty and accountability….

    not more banal cliched soundbites……

  19. peter milburn says:

    Carolina I read your column but have to say that being a little closely involved I can only say that this was just an opening salvo to let people know what can be expected at subsequent meetings where at some point they will let people know who they "endorse"and will then leave it up to those "endorsees"to set up their own meetings to address the issues with those living in their areas.I can only say that we cant do any worse than what we are facing on a daily basis right now so I think that we should take the "wait and see"attitude for now and then decide when we hear who's who and what's what.Anyone who will support the Cayman Islands I will support but will NEVER support anyone in either party as we stand today.Ever since the advent of the party system I have said this is bad for this country,knowing full well how people are once they get into a position of power.Will any of these "endorsees"do the same?Only time will tell but for sure we need a serious change across the board so a few (4-6)possible independants getting in the house may well do what is so sorely needed and you know as well as I do their is a large number of the voting public crying out for change right now, not a change of one party to the next but to get forward thinking bright young(compared to me)Caymanians that WILL put country first.Time will tell but I sincerely hope that the voting public will listen to ALL sides of this upcoming election and THEN vote for the best possible candidates.I* would certainly hope that their will be a couple(at least)of bright ladies that will keep the HOUSE in order.We can certainly do with that!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Mr Peter I thought you knew better than this, if these so called independents contest the next election they are goin gto do nothing more than split up the anti-udp vote and return them to power. When Kent Mctaggart called the talk show and demanded that the leader of the opposition ask his party to step aside and allow C4C to fight the UDP (Insolent lil brute) I saw what they really want and its power. These guys are backed by big money and they want to return these islands to the days when the merchant elite and I hatre to say it “White Caymanians” ruled the day and in order to eat we were beholden to them. That will not happen and movements like C4C push thsi country closer and closer tot he brink of revolution. Beware Cayman giving power to these people who do not hire Caymanians in their companies and firms and who expect Government to do their bidding is dangerous!

      • Anonymous says:

        These guys are backed by big money and they want to return these islands to the days when the merchant elite and I hate to say it "White Caymanians" ruled the day and in order to eat we were beholden to them.  As bad as it might seem, I am not for any party and would much rather the politicial system  of the 1960's to 1984.  My life as a Caymanian was better under the Caymanian merchant elite that ruled the day then, than what we have today.  Yes I preferred it when there were five Caymanian merchant class families to now when there is only one merchant.  Although painful I would rather suffer at the hands of my own than that of a stranger in my country of origin.  

      • Anonymous says:

        By "Merchant elite", I assume you are referring to Cayman's successful businesses and the people who own and run them. Given the fact that we are a Capitalist country, our system depends on businesses, large and small. The alternative is for the State to own the businesses and to provide for everyone with handouts. Is that what you prefer? Take a look at the books of the Turtle Farm, Cayman Airways, Cinoco, etc. if you want to see how well the State runs businesses.  If you wipe out the Country's capitalist run businesses, who is going to pay the taxes and fees that our Politicians are so good at spending? Who is going to provide jobs to Caymanians? Don't be fooled by Professional Politicians, they are niether producers or employers. They are parasites living off the sweat of hard working business owners and their employees. Cayman experienced unprecedented growth and sound financial management when most of the Politicians were from your so called "Merchant elite". Contrast that period of Cayman's history with what has happened since the advent of Professional Politicians. If you have a problem with the Capitalist system, our neighbor immediately to the north is a workers paradise and I am sure they would welcome you with open arms (and a job in the cane fields).

  20. Anonymous says:

    That's the kind of attitude that keeps people following along like sheep.

    • anon says:

      No, people CHOOSING to follow like sheep is the attitude that KEEPS THEM FOLLOWING ALONG LIKE SHEEP!  Personal responsibility much?

      Making informed decisions before jumping on the latest bandwagon is common sense.

    • Anonymous says:

      Absolutely not! that is the kind of attitude that if followed "Caymanians" would still be kings & queens" in their own castle instead of being put out to pasture like goats.

  21. anon says:

    Took the words right out of my mouth!

    We want to believe you C4C, but you gotta come better than that.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Yesterday on Wednesday the Leader of the Opposition became irate when questioned about some of the proposed solutions from the PPM. He said the PPM won't have any solutions to the countrys problems until February 2013. Alden said that he didn't want to present the PPM ideas early to have the UDP and others tear the ideas apart or steal them.

    Now you can call me shallow but that mentality does not bode well for the PPM or the country for that matter.

    • Anonymous says:

      PPM will provide Leadership which cannot be bought unlike those in the UDP and C4C.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Very well put, and very appropriate challenges for this new formation to respond to.  The problem in Cayman is not political parties as such, but the two political parties which presently vie for power.  No one is aware of any programmatic or ideological differences between the two, reducing "party politics" here to a question of personalities, and making a mockery of the party system.

    The party system ideally offers voters a clear-cut choice between programmes and positions, between different plans on how to govern our country during the next electoral term, and perhaps between ideologies.  Both existing parties fail these criteria miserably, essentially leaving the electorate muddling between personalities and empty promises, and no better off than if parties didn't exist.

    As the author explains, the slogan of "Country First" is totally meaningless, since we do not all share the same interests.  The example given of Dart versus the people defending West Bay Road is a telling example of the conflict of interests and of power between various entities and social classes at play in any society.  It's also the most telling example of what's wrong with the new "Coalition for Cayman".  Hollow patriotism hides a programmatic void, and no one knows what exactly this new formation stands for.

    The "ForCayman Investment Alliance" is pushing to get the George Town dump out of Dart's backyard, regardless of the consequences for the ordinary people of Bodden Town.  Where does the "Coalition for Cayman" stand on this issue?  Of course, regardless of the answer, and we certainly hope that they'll oppose Dart, one must always be wary of any formation which has to prove its "good intention" of being "for Cayman" by sticking the claim in its name.  After all, folks, everyone is "for Cayman", a claim as empty as it typically is misleading.

    There are rich and poor in the Cayman Islands, bosses and workers, greedy developers, tenants, unemployed, citizens and expats working on permit.  They all make up Cayman, but they do not share the same interests, rights, concerns and goals.  Pretending that these conflicts of interest do not exist is, historically, a trick of the rich and of those in power, typically disguised as "good Christians".  A new political formation, be it a party or an "anti-party" or a "Coalition", which claims to be "for all Caymanians" does not auger well — especially the for change we so badly need..

     

  24. Anonymous says:

    If you don't agree, don't join or sign up. Start a group of your own. Looks to me like their main interest is in government that follows the law and doesn't abuse people who disagree. . If you don't like who they endorse, mail a check to the person you like. It's a little hard to blame the present governments failure on the people who have put themselves forward with C4C.

    • youth? says:

      I think you've missed the point of this VP entirely.

      I was at the meeting and I have to say that other than broad statements I don't know what there is to "agree" or "disagree" with!

      Nothing that was said was "bad" or "wrong"- there was just no substance to any of it.  Sure there are some good people who were up there talking, but as far as the actual message there isn't much to go by.

      If change is what is being proposed, than be different plain and simple!

      and no one is blaming c4c for the government's failures! 

       

      • Anonymous says:

        I AM BLAMING C$C…they have been on the Governments Advisory Committees for nearly 4 years. C$C is blaming and attacking PPM.

        C$C do you realise the PPM has been the OPPOSITION for 4 years they should be your ally yet you continually attach PPM and Alden's personality.

        Give it a few weeks C$C will be attacking Ezzard and Arden because they wont fit the "Business Freindly" profile of the C$C.

        C$C appears to be an ally of the UDP.

        C$C if you want to help stay out of politics get more Caymanians empolyed in your businesses and stop making excuses why they are unemployable.

        C$C is simply the sequal to the "Better way Forward"

    • Anonymous says:

      You missed the whole point of this very well-written article. Good job Carolina.

    • What!!!!!!!!!! says:

      C$C come in like udp, cant take a little advise without getting offended!

      Brilliant Viewpoint Ms. Ferreira.