Is politics nothing other than the art of deliberately lying?⁃ Voltaire
There is a conversation being had across the globe. In the USA, UK, Barbados to name a few. It is about the integrity of the politician and the system that produces the politician. Oftentimes public commentators in this space and elsewhere offer facile analyses to what is a complex matter. It is no coincidence the political class is being pilloried by electors across countries and we continue to observe an unprecedented level of apathy and cynicism.
Our system – in theory – encourages any individual to offer themselves as a candidate for elective politics. When we criticize politicians we criticize ourselves. But is it that simple an observation to make?
The easy observation is that the process to select and elect political candidates who aspire to be members of parliament is inadequate. As the saying goes, “you only get out what you put in”. Why is the existing system to select political candidates inadequate to ensure the best opportunity to select a different type of politician?
Whether in the US, UK or Barbados it is obvious the ‘system’ is not engineered to encourage candidates from the blue collar segment of society to have a high chance of winning at the polls. The explanation maybe a simple one even if the solution is challenging to solve. There is a reason why individuals who are financially self sufficient like lawyers, doctors and self employed professionals run for political office. These self employed players have the flexibility to allocate time to canvassing, financial independence to grow favour with constituents and to avoid the strictures of being an employee. There is the knock on benefits of building social and professional networks and understanding the workings of the system to feather aspirations (the subject of another engagement) of professions.
The establishment in the case of Barbados solidifies the status quo by appointing individuals to the Senate from a similar class of background. Let us agree those selected must have a skillset to be competent to be a legislator BUT if the blue collar segment of the population is significant, room must be carved out in our system to ensure the best representation is reflected in the legislation.
As mentioned this is not simply a Barbados problem. Understanding the dysfunctional political system cannot be accurately distilled by the use of cliches like duopoly, tieffin politicians and other hyperbolic language used by some social commentators. It is a complex matter. We have to take heart from the fact change is constant and a process. It will occur as it always does – through honest to God advocacy by the PEOPLE.