WRONG_WOEID WRONG_WOEID

LOW EARTH ORBIT – The Government We Deserve

 The Government We DeserveObservations from space and at ground level indicate that Antiguans and Barbudans have always had, have now and will always have … the government we deserve.

It is impossible to entertain the belief that under conditions of democracy the will of the people is paramount, that the voice of the people is the voice of God, without equally accepting the reality of the political situation that results from the free exercise of the people’s will. According to the philosophy just quoted the government we have now, flawed as it is, must represent the will of the people as expressed overtly through the casting of ballots, or tacitly through the continuing acceptance of governmental misbehavior.



Under conditions of democracy what is “normal” is determined by what “the people” are prepared to overlook, ignore, excuse, accept, approve or endure for an extended period of time. It makes no difference that many individuals – perhaps a significant number – may be highly dissatisfied with circumstances as they are: the version of the Westminster System that our former colonial masters blessed us with dictates that the majority shall rule, and rightfully so. This is, after all, the essence of democracy – that each person shall have one vote, and that the individuals or groups attracting the greatest quantum of voter support shall control the machinery of governance for a period of time.

The version of the hallowed Westminster System with which we have been blessed is designed to ensure that as far as possible “the people” are permitted to exercise their franchise only once every 5 years: spending up to 5 hours or even more in a polling line, and under 5 minutes in an actual polling booth. Between those rare occasions when the voice of the people is given some brief freedom that same version of the Westminster System consigns the nation to virtual dictatorship, tricked out in all the trappings of parliamentary procedure.

The attention of a complacent and unperceptive people has been repeatedly drawn to the incongruity of a political system that creates a virtual “winner-take-all” environment. Under our current system of governance it is possible for the prime minister’s cabinet to usurp the true role of parliament, imposing a virtual “cabinet dictatorship”. This unhealthy condition is exacerbated by the excessive powers granted to the prime minister, who for example has the power to “pack” the upper house of parliament just about to his or her own specifications.

When one adds to this already excessive authority the further power to solely determine who shall sit in cabinet and what portfolios his appointees shall oversee, the “position power” of the prime minister enters the realm of the pathological – and we have not even factored in the greatest power of all: the authority to call general elections at any time, according to the prime minister’s own appreciation of his or her best political interests.

And yet, it appears to be virtually impossible to awaken a complacent, subservient body politic to the in-built negative consequences of our grafted-on system of governance, a method that has little connection to the true needs of our weak, toddling attempt at forging a democracy in our islands.

This has much to do with our colonial history, which has resulted in the creation of a society of servants and slaves: a people bred to subservience; scarred in spirit; low in self-esteem; ever seeking the security of Massa’s good favor – or failing that, the comforting shadow of some lighter-skinned person with deep pockets and a willingness to spend lavishly to dazzle the natives. A wealthy Syrian, Texan or even Chinese – it doesn’t really matter … as long as they are willing to “show us the money”.

Many of our African peoples display a pronounced tendency to ignore the pernicious influence that our past exerts on our present-day reality. Although we pretend to honor the doomed effort of National Hero King Court, in truth our hearts are far from any spirit of assertiveness or of national honor. Nurtured and socialized in a highly authoritarian environment that is based in centuries of slavery, feudalism and colonial domination, we the descendants of slaves and servants have internalized the principles of subservience to the extent that we fail to question the status quo – accepting our subordinate condition as the natural order of things.

Nowhere is this truth more clearly demonstrated than in our attitude to our leaders, and in the metaphors that we so readily apply to the head of “our” government, whom we misleadingly style: the “Chief Servant” – a revealing characterization indeed, for a nation of servants and slaves.

Perhaps it is a holdover from Africa – one we can very well do without – this excessive veneration for the leader, as if he is some kind of tribal chieftain or minor potentate transplanted from the Mother Country: one who must be idolized and adored, made a figure of local legend, called “Papa” and indulged in his every whim and fancy at the expense of any ethical consideration - or only too often of justice. No sooner had we “thrown off” the colonial yoke than our people re-created an even worse subjection: domination by the politics of the lowest common denominator, exercised by a “Massa” of our own selection … true emancipation … real empowerment … full adult suffrage.



Today, we the people take our direction from a “Big Man”, one whose flaws are evident but who is as equally indulged in his every erratic move as “Papa” ever was. It is very instructive to hear voices from the “grassroots”, in their halting attempt to make sense of the people’s relationship with their government, apply the easy analogy of a “family”: one where the prime minister is the “father” and everyone else his “children” who should comport themselves as such. Senators and ministers of government – highly educated lawyers – have been heard to deploy that analogy in defense of their partisan interests. These genuinely bewildered products of colonial conditioning have fully internalized the authoritarian impulse, and are consequently unable to frame any coherent concept of democracy.

And this explains why we the people of Antigua & Barbuda have always had, have now, and will always have the government we deserve. Until, that is, we wake up to the truth that democracy is for free people – and not meant for servants and slaves.

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14 Comments In This Article   

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RE: LOW EARTH ORBIT – The Government We Deserve

#14 concern citizen » 2013-05-31 20:09

Good article. Antigua has a class problem. We the people perpetuate the problem.
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concern citizen

@ Colin

#13 Observer... » 2013-04-09 00:48

Where do you get the saying from that the voice of the people is the voice of God. That is such a wrong saying. God's voice is the voice of rightiousness of love and Justice. The people are the voice of the world. Whem Moses came down from the mountain he had to rebuke the voice of the people. Cause they didn't wanted to do anything with God anymore. Aaron listen to the people and allow them to build a calf and idolize it as their god. People make wrong things right overtime, God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Never changing. So please use a different phrase.
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Observer...

UNFAIR ANALYSIS OF THE BODY POLITIC

#12 YOUTH ELIJAH » 2013-04-08 01:28

Since our independence the Antigua & Barbuda people have never had a government; the political parties (ALP, PLM & now UPP) are the ones that have... The wrongful democratic philosophy preached then continues into today, where the electorate are told they need to vote for a political party instead of a representative and when the dust settles the political party that wins the majority of constituencies asserts itself as the government of the day, when its suppose to be a collective among every elected representative of the people...

Civic education is not taught in our schools or in parliament, people and even a majority of the politicians have never been trained in democracy, its principles, what the constitution or the gazette is or their relevance on their lives..

You think the people wouldn't have already fired Mr Spencer et al if we could??

Can you fairly talk about us truly getting the government we deserve when alot of the people are not educated on whats right, to know wrong or are even empowered to correct a wrong if they deem it so?? I think not...
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YOUTH ELIJAH

@ Skyewill & Tenman - Bamboozled: The Medium Is The Massage by the Sleeper! PT2

#11 Joahn French II » 2013-04-07 22:58

Notes From A Native Son Of The Rock! Quote:
and Joseph Shervington, who rose tobecome Deputy Treasurer by 1840,both very much part of the all-white administration. Their Natural Portion. A History of Antigua: The Unsuspected Isle - Brian Dyde.
That this class & mentality of coloureds continue to plague the country & nation is best understood by the Black Intelligentia & Bourgeoisie from the sixties onward who wanted no part of the Standard Seven Leaders. This is not a class of people to be dismissed. Many of the Working Poor & the majority of 95% of African Descent are doing so at their own Peril. Whether you agree or not the Professor rings the Bell. Pay Attention.
Even though the Op Ed writer, Adrian Loveridge, see url below, addresses Tourism Issue on Barbados, his comments are always pregnant with a keen acumen for the political, economical & social environment of Caribbean SIDS. www.caribbeannewsnow.com/topstory-Commentary%3A-Tourism-Matters%3A-A-new-chapter-for-our-tourism-industry%3F-15290.html The Black Intelligentia & Bourgeoisie will not be in the complement of the 40% not voting. Minds Made Up!
Oh Gad! Pray Fuh Mi Picknees!
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Joahn French II

@ Skyewill & Tenman - Bamboozled: The Medium Is The Massage by the Sleeper!

#10 Joahn French II » 2013-04-07 22:23

Notes From A Native Son Of The Rock! Yesterday, given CA's "Slow Day", a comrade, suggested that the Love Fest would last no longer than the Ascention Period. This mere voice argued that it would be just as quick as the Resurrection.
That the Tranfiguration causes disbelief of the InTelligentia & BlackBourgeoisie should not be suprising. We must not be held accountable for our own Mental & Psychological Development, It is Original Sin, Ancestral & African. Have Mercy Pon Us. A Jacka$$ does not become a Jacka$$ by braying, but brays because it is a JackA$$. Quote:
Following the abolition of Slavery, the majority of the coloureds, understandably wanting to believe that their best hopes for the future lay in assimilation into, or atleast complete acceptance as equals by, the white community, sided wholeheartedly with the whites in their attempts to keep the newly emancipated black Antiguans in their place. They were assisted in thinking that this was in their best interests by men like Loving & Athill, who were active servants of the law from the beginning, & others such as Daniel Hill, who became the Governor's Secretary in 1837,
Contd in PT2.
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Joahn French II

the truth

#9 my way of helping » 2013-04-07 22:17

In everything, there will be a leader, one person may get it better than the other, rmthat person will lead the others, take charge, with the blessings of the others to carry out their purpose.

Leaders will always exist and will always be needed.
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my way of helping

the symptom

#8 tenman » 2013-04-07 19:52

Quote:
As a People we lack the sophistication to make the change without the guidance of of a caring leader that is willing to fullfil Papa's Legacy and lead the People out of darkness of partisan politics.
So we need a big man to come and lead the sheep? What crap

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tenman

Who will save the People from their right to vote

#7 Professor » 2013-04-07 18:48

Brilliant Piece, overflowing with difficult truths and insightful observations.

Although you stopped short of explicitly condemning the Big Man an dem who use money to pervert the domocratic processes of good governance, the implications, imputations and connotations will suffice today.

The Westminster System is the second worst thing that happened to our nation, corrupt politicians who exploit the deliberate weaknesses in the system to feather their caps are the worst.

As a People we lack the sophistication to make the change without the guidance of of a caring leader that is willing to fullfil Papa's Legacy and lead the People out of darkness of partisan politics.
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Professor

tricked out in all the trappings of parliamentary procedure.

#6 skyewill » 2013-04-07 17:52

No sooner had we “thrown off” the colonial yoke than our people re-created an even worse subjection: domination by the politics of the lowest common denominator, exercised by a “Massa” of our own selection …
We have been mis educated to believe that a certain group of individuals are smarter than we are, nothing short of a lie. What average person would owe 20 million and allow it to grow to 70 million then want to negotiate?
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skyewill

RE: LOW EARTH ORBIT – The Government We Deserve

#5 Rasta man » 2013-04-07 17:35

WE NEED SPIRITUAL HEALING IF WE ARE TO PROGRESS
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Rasta man

Excellent article but...

#4 Mangohead » 2013-04-07 17:02

Excellent article. One of the best i've ever read here. While i agree with your analysis that the 'we get the Government we deserve', i think you could expand on the problems that this veneration of the 'Big Man' has created. It has created a society were barely a voice is raised against the blatant vote buying we see here, something perhaps more commonly associated with the most corrupt African republics, those who have thrown off colonialism only to accept, allow, embrace and tacitly encourage the very worst excesses of patronage, nepotism and corruption. The fact that all of our National institutions are stuffed to the gunnels with individuals who are appointed, not because of their skills and abilities in carrying out their roles, but because of their support for one political party and/or one leader is a terrible inditement of not only the system but of those who partake in it. Until that issue is addressed and the leaders and indeed ALL employees of our civil institutions are appointed on ability alone, we will never progress.
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Mangohead

RE: LOW EARTH ORBIT – The Government We Deserve

#3 The player » 2013-04-07 15:50

Colin, stop blaming the PLAYER. Blame the GAME.
Just because someone's vote is for sale does not make them a servant or slave.
Antiguans and Barbudans sell all sorts of things including their bodies and souls!
What surprises me is that after selling their votes, many persons still think the politician owes them something. If I buy your vote, I owe you nothing thereafter! There is no after sales service. Ohhh the games we play in this country.
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The player

democracy

#2 tenman » 2013-04-07 14:00

Colin, reading this article causes me to remember a recent one you wrote about our ability to disregard ability in favor of emotions (don't like him/her). We tend not to make voting decisions based on a plan and the persons ability to bring it to fruition. I don't know if the problem lies with our education? Clearly too many do not understand the responsibility which comes from voting. No matter the democratic system, until we understand and live up to our responsibility, it will never work

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tenman

@ Colin

#1 my way of helping » 2013-04-07 13:40

Colin, i love your this, especially the first few paragraph. I have always post this but some tnink i am crazy.
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my way of helping

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Mr. Colin Sampson

 Mr. Colin Sampson is a Journalist and the host of "The Colin Sampson Show" on Caribantigua TV 

 

 

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