Voter responsibility

| 05/04/2013

The terrible driver that I was (and arguably still am) sat fuming at a T-junction when my instructor said something in the midst of our discussion that we will say, for the sake of simplicity, had focused on the various problems of the country. “We need these projects because we need jobs. I have to listen to people every day who are suffering and know that now, their neighbour most likely won’tgive him some milk as they used to.”

“Isn’t that the true problem, then?” I replied, frustrated not with what he said, but in my confusion and paranoia of handling the vehicle without killing him, myself, or anyone for that matter.

At 21 years of age, I am part of a new generation of voters that everyone talks about, but few appear to be able to grasp the gravity of the situation we have been placed in. Unlike many of our parents, we have grown up in abundance. This doesn’t mean we have all had the privilege of wealth, the best education, have been fattened on fine food and liquors, or the like. We have grown up with untamed want, an insatiable desire for more – material and immaterial – a feeling that often can be confused with need.

What my driving instructor said to me reflected this. We say we ‘need’ projects, when in reality we need what those projects often promise and rarely deliver: stability, growth, the ability for a family to place food on the table, and a society that cares. The last is arguably the most important, as one may say that when a community can have pride, and hold compassion in their hearts for their peers, the false needs are irrelevant. This cannot be bought with money, this cannot be harvested with selfish ambition, and this cannot be sustained through actions that merely produce satisfactory immediate results.

Our country is small; it is fragile in economy and environment. Despite our few exploitable resources, our forefathers managed to make enough wise decisions that have made Cayman enviable in theeyes of many, despite our current stagnant growth and our cynicism. However, with that newfound wealth, we have turned our backs on what was so precious – a sense of community, of hard work, of endurance, and reverence for what little we have. In our pursuit of wealth, we have ignored our gifts. We have sold our flora and fauna for concrete condos that often lie empty.

Why is it we pay increasingly heavy duty on importing products instead of investing that money into production as an economical, local option providing individuals work and income? We pride ourselves on our tourism sector, yet have done so little to preserve our reefs and the wildlife that resides in our waters that people come to see. The younger generation has been thrown by the wayside, poorly equipped, to take on the burden of debt and social instability that our elders will leave us. We have been demanded to succeed despite the breakdown in the traditional family structure and the poor emphasis on education and self-improvement. We pride ourselves on our rich cultural and ethnic background, yet there is a growing hostility towards ‘foreigners’. Our problem, when looking at the smallest nuisances to the greater socio-economic problems we face, are not so different in that we are capable of finding answers; however we seem to have difficulty finding the right ones.

These elections are of paramount importance. We need to find the right answers. These may not be immediate, and to those voters and non-voters who are struggling, that is frustrating. Our politicians and would-be politicians struggle to approach an electorate who need answers now, a matter which is further complicated by island gossip, family loyalties, and personal ties. It is not that there exists no mode or method to salvage our shrinking middle class. We merely have not been brave enough to make decisions that challenge the status quo, and too often we try to emulate the mediocrities of the world around us rather than learning from past failures and thinking how can we surpass everyone else.

This is an age where almost anything is possible – if you are wise. That being said, our politicians can no longer tell us things will ‘soon’ get better and we can no longer align ourselves, due to personal reasons, to opportunists, the ignorant and the meek. If this is to be a democracy, we the peoplemust prove we cannot be bought. We must prove that we will not be emotionally swayed. I say ‘we’ because, in what may be youthful naiveté, I believe that a community cannot be saved if we cannot think of ourselves as a community and collectively shoulder the blame.

No matter whom anyone supports, for whatever reason, it is OUR fault for allowing the failures of our leaders and for not being strong enough to stand up together. A country whose citizens sit, grumbling sourly, while watching their livelihoods destroyed deserves no pity. It is not a democracy, and one should not expect it to be as such if our democratic rights are not used positively.

This is not a matter of you and me, them and us. If we are to be respected, if we are to grow, if we are to thrive, we must each do our part. Ask questions. Look to facts, not empty words. Let us treat each other and ourselves with respect. If we are incapable of doing even that bare minimum, then those days when a neighbor could turn to another in a time of need will be gone. We will be further consumed by suspicion, malice and greed and we will have no one to blame but ourselves – and we have seen already what that can do.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Bai, I too have heard people saying how we need government to do projects in order to create jobs. This mentality is exactly why Cayman is now in economic decline and the future is looking dim for the youth of this country.


    We will only prosper as a country when government implements and abides by conservative economic policies which promote growth and lower our living costs. The problem now is our debt. We are forced to pay unreasonably high taxes and fees in order to pay down our debt. Unfortunately, this new found revenue often goes toward new spending rather than debt reduction. 


    The young generation will be hit the hardest for these past mistakes. Nothing can be done until our debt is under control. 


    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with most of what you say. However, I think we need to understand that our problem is not really debt. Our country only uses just around 11% of the fees collected for debt repayments. This is very small when compared to other countries, regardless of size.

      The main problem is the other approximately 89% made up of excessive recurrent expenditure on the running of an oversized government, ineffeciency, waste, political interference for self/friends/family, doing things our Govt. should no longer be involved in, etc.

      It will be a lot easier to trim say 20% off that amount and thereby reduce the need for fees which will promote growth and lower the cost of living. This has been staring us in the face for years. Continued tightening up of expenditure HAS to be the order of the years to come.

      Likewise, as individuals (families) we should focus on our needs, that is, expenditure that improves our standard of living, rather than desires/wants which just disappear over a short time.

    • Anonymouse Man says:

      Sorry but it is not our debt that we need to get under control, it is the lavish, wasteful indiscriminate spending. Too many special interest groups to satisfy their demands. Too many secret agendas to complete. Our politicians spend money from our treasury like it was their own credit card. Control wasteful spending on special interest groups and we will never have to borrow or raise taxes for several years! 

  2. St Peter says:

    Thank you for an excellent viewpoint!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Bai, I completely and wholeheartedly agree with your sentiments. Although I am no longer 21 I too am a young Caymanian who is frustrated and baffled by the continuing socioeconomic derogation of the Caymanian Society. The fact of the matter is we the Caymanian People are to blame. I continually question what happened to the society of Caymanian People like my grandparents who cared about their fellow man, creating a future for their descendants and most of all knew that in order for we as a People to become successful we all had to work together as one. It is clear that greed as destroyed that conviction and the voted members to the LA had sold the wellbeing of Cayman's People a long time ago.

    This current system has to be abolished and rebuilt to allow restoration to the Country. Paving a road is not sufficient to get my vote and I don't need a second hand fridge or washing machine. Unfortunately, I do not know any of these candidates personally and do not need to. More importantly, I want to know what exactly their plans are to resolve these problems and renew the Country for present and future generations. Not just spewing rhetoric and ensuring the wellbeing of their immediate family members. Furthermore, I want them to recognize my generation's demands greatly differ from the previous and with each generation bores new thoughts and approaches to established procedure.


  4. Anonymous says:

    I would vote for the author before any of the clowns seeking re-election! Well said and hope for Cayman’s future.

  5. Len Layman says:

    Bai,  those are words of wisdom beyond your 21 years.  It is nice to know that the younger generation truly does hold the promise for the future.

    As voters we should read these words and take them to heart. We have many to choose from at the polls in May.  I hope we all take it seriously and ask the hard questions of those running.  Insist on honest answers, keep asking till you are satisfied that you have the information you need to make a decision.  Do not just sit back and be spoon fed the normal political pablum that will be spewed out at you.

    There are some fine candidates running. Search them out.  Do not be overly influenced by their colors or initials or lack of either.  Find out who the individual is and what they personally stand for.
    Then vote accordingly.

    Thank you, Bai, for your insight.

  6. Anonymous says:

    As if its the people's fault that certain of our politicians look out for their own interest, why not amend the Constitution we received in '09 to include more checks and balances regarding legislations

    • Anonymous says:

      May I play Devil’s advocate? If these individuals were elected by the people and the Constitution was approved by the people, who would you suppose gave them the ability to do so? These politicians are not new and it is not as though this is the first time we were taken advantage of, so whom would you suppose shoulders that responsibility?. Fool me once, fool me twice, right?

      • PHILO the Philosopher says:

        Dear,  [Sat 04/06/2013 – 06:37],

        It is obvious you've missed "the point" that Bai has so eloquently made. hopefully you are not one of those who try to justify "thoughtless and unfortunate" decisions made by Politicians of, "both parties" whereby, instead of being critical of bad decisions made by and or acquiesced to by the party one supports, the general retort will be:  Oh well! The DUM party did the same thing while they were there. As if to say my party [who are now sitting] has the same right to do whatever the other did while destroying Our Country. This is a pervasive attitude in these Islands.

        We will always have voters who listen and trust candidates who they believe are the kind of persons who will stick to those promises made to us. Unfortunately tho we seem not to learn from our mistakes and keep repeating them over and over. This my friend is because of a very important point Bai has made. That point being, WE HAVE BECOME ALL ABOUT SELF. We [meaning all of us] have become accustomed to a certain lifestyle and find it necessary to try and maintain that lifestyle and by doing so  has put  blinders on ourselves that have blocked our peripheral vision. Thuswe fail to see all the pain and suffering around us. I suggest that you Bai should get out there during this Campaign Season and speak up for the next generation. There is a need for voices like yours today. 

        So let us all take heed from words [out of the mouths of babes] "Our Young", for they are sometimes much wiser than we are. 


        • Anonymous says:

          Dear PHILO

          Unfortunately I think it is you that  "missed the point".

           [Sat 04/06/2013 – 06:37] was replying to the comment directly above (Fri, 04/05/2013 – 14:33) regarding the Constitution.

          See how it works?


  7. Anonymous says:

    I whole heartly agree. "we" have to play our part. "we" have to get involved. Father's have to be accountable and not "stud" material. 'We" as a family have to take care of our own. Lead by example. The only thing "free" in this world is salvation and many dont want it.

    The buck stops with "we".


    The world and our society owes us nothing. "WE" on the other hand owes society "everything".

    "we" have to seperate our needs from our wants. and the list goes on…………


    So dont blame the politicians "we" are the ones who put them there.


    "we" have the power of choice. I suggest "we" use it wisely….


    Get informed by being involved…..


    Change happens by being involved…….


    One Love…

  8. M says:

    As a voter, I have a hard time knowing who it the best candidate to vote for. I hear people say to vote for someone you know, but that is my problem. I don't know any of them, and just because they stop by my home and we shook hands, to me that is not knowing someone. I have to know a person by how they react to difficult situations, how much they thirst for personal gain, how they tolerate family and people that will make you lose your patience, how much they can relate with the public. I am afraid I have nothing to go on. I don't want to hear what they think or say, because you can always tell me what you think or say and don't mean it; or when the time comes, don't deliver. I don't want to hear promises or how a person will do better than another person. So I am fed up with political rivalry as well. I have realized that it is better for me not to vote anyone into power if I don't "know" who I am putting into power. I hear some saying to me that you should vote in the lesser evil because if you don't, the worse of the evils will get in and that would be your fault. I really don't think so, because how could I vote if I don't even know who is the lesser or worse of the evils? It is "knowing"… that is my point, and not merely head-knowledge, but experientially knowing who is who and how they identify with power, money, and personal gain. So I am content not voting, but educating more than voting. Sorry but I am not the only Caymanian that believe this. Call it apathy or not, I am being honest with myself. 

    • Anonymous says:

      M if you are contend not voting then you should have nothing to say when politicians destroy this country as you did noting to correct the problem.

      I will grant you that there have been many a politician that have promised and done nothing.

      But we still must vote to at least attempt to put the right people in power.

      Who that is going to be will vary from time to time.

      Mac for me  is running out of chances. Dont say that to West Bay because he has been good to them. B ut the last time he was in was the big status grant fiasco and now this.

      PPM went in one year and they set back the country with big spending as well.

      But still we must try.

    • Anonymous says:

      Chris Rock put it well, “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain”. Tim Ridley