People Apathy is Real
In the pre and post 2018 general election analysis Barbadians were and continue to be subjected to a myriad of reasons why the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) was resoundingly rejected in consecutive general elections. All kinds of analyses completed with the jargon from the world of statistics have been dumped in the public space – swing analysis, standard deviation, outlier, historical comparatives etc.
As a keen follower of local affairs this blogmaster posits that 2018 was no outlier, it was a tipping point. The country witnessed the catastrophic impact caused by a leadership vacuum triggered by the death of David Thompson. On the other divide there was the rise of Mia Mottley as leader of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP). In the mind of the 45% of voters inclined to vote there was no comparison. In the prevailing environment this perceived difference by the electorate in the leadership of the two parties will determine outcomes in future elections. It is being observed how Mottley is forcing through changes to address the leadership vacuum should she vacate the position in five years.
What is voter apathy?
The simple explanation to summarize various definitions is a lack of interest shown by an electorate to participating in elections by certain segments. It does not require the blogmaster to be prolix to make the point that if a significant number of people disengage from a system designed to serve them, there is a high probability of negative outcomes. There is a secondary observation to support a conclusion voter apathy being a real concern seen in wider society. Do not forget what defines an ecosystem and what it takes to function optimally.
Instead of the false narratives being propagated by the usual talking heads to satisfy paymasters, a more constructive exercise in the interest of building a wholesome society would be to identify the drivers causing rising voter apathy and cynicism by the citizenry. The results of such an engagement would inform a plan to boost civic awareness in the country. An active democracy requires more than citizens marking an X when an election is called, it requires day to day engagement. According to Centre for Civic Education a few of the ways citizens can participate:
◦ Scanning for information in media, magazines etc to fact check
◦ Participating in political discussion
◦ Signing petitions
◦ Communicating ideas and concerns to elected representatives
◦ Attending meetings to acquire information, participate in discussions, lend support
◦ Lobbying for laws of special interest
◦ Demonstrating through marches, boycotts, sit-ins and other forms of protest
◦ RUNNING for OFFICE (BU’s emphasis)
◦ Civil disobedience to list a few
If there is no healthy participation in our democracy by citizens the country loses an important check and balance by not benefiting from its collective knowledge pool. At a secondary level have we been observing the lack of quorums and low voter turnouts to AGMS of credit unions, sports associations, trade unions and other NGOs? There is a malaise, ignorance and decadence being witnessed on scale in Barbados- some argue it goes beyond our shores- that details a dysfunction we need to correct. Is the blogmaster overly-optimistic to expect our leaders in ALL spheres of society to make a priority of determining solutions to energize respective memberships?
There is the saying attributed to philosopher Aristotle that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” – to grow a wholesome Barbados society ALL stakeholders will have to deliver by achieving agreed to aims and objectives. A key stakeholder is the citizenry, ceding our innate rights as citizens to politicians et al will ensure more of the same.
A word to the wise should be sufficient.