June 13, 2020
Written by : Tasha Ann Miller
All things have shifted greatly since 2020, and the political landscape did not escape this revolution. Corruption is ripening in some countries, and it is now being exposed to healing as government and democracy reach a face-off. The biggest halt to corruption and justice reform has been the worldwide protest over the death of George Floyd by the hands of a white police officer which has sent triggers of mass protests globally. Justice and reform is the core of true politics, and governments all across the world are now being forced to take on the healing of wounds that have been left uncured for too long.
The history of the civil rights movement in America and the old judicial system in Jamaica has been left upended and needs to be updated quickly to finally close out the perpetuation of injustices that have reigned continuously. Recently in Jamaica, Noel Chambers, a mentally ill inmate at the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre for 40 years, died without his case going before the courts. Furthermore, according to the recent Independent Commissions of Jamaica (INDECOM) quarterly, there are 146 mentally ill inmates awaiting trial in the penal system. Consequently, in the United States, people are resisting the silence by the judicial system to hold white police officers accountable for the killing of unarmed black women and men. On Friday, June 12, 2020, Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill to legislate police reform by outlawing chokeholds, immediate appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate killings of unarmed civilians by the police and make criminally liable false 911 calls due to one’s race. He also plans to withhold funding from the police departments if the reforms are not enforced.
Elections In View: United States and Jamaica
Donald Trump has been one of the most talked-about President in America’s political history with 804,000,000 results in 0.68 seconds when you Google his name today from my location. His term as President of the United States has been marked with an unprecedented level of trial by fire as he moves from hurdle to hurdle while continuing to yield incredible economic results. He can be categorically termed as one of the most disliked Presidents by the majority of Americans and people worldwide. However, in some aspects of the Christian community, he is seen as King Cyrus whose role in Jewish history was to restore the temple of Jerusalem after the Israelites returned from exile in Babylon. He is a vitriolic pain to the Democrats as the election preparation for 2020 hits high gear.
In Jamaica, Prime Minister, Andrew Holness is an embellished refreshment to politics even though his tenure has been marked by deep corruption scandals from within his cabinet, and a strong cartwheel brake of leadership to keep the country’s health system in line with the pressure to handle the COVID19 pandemic while not putting the economy on the sacrificial list. The Jamaican general election is constitutionally due June 10, 2021 that is five years and three months from the first sitting of parliament after a new government is formed. However, this time can be shortened if the Prime Minister has good reasons to advise the Governor General otherwise. On March 10, 2016 at the first official sitting of Parliament after the Jamaica Labour Party was victorious at the polls, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said ‘it is time to put Jamaica first’ (Jamaica-Gleaner, 2016).
Jamaica has been lauded by international organizations for their economic resurgence after climbing out of vaults of debt under the International Monetary Fund (IMF) restructuring program with levels of growth before the global COVID 19 pandemic. The leadership of the Andrew Holness led government has been profound in the discipline taken to cultivate such a turnaround in a short time span. Therefore, the Opposition leader, Dr. Peter Phillips, will need to ensure he has a strong plan if he is to take over the reins of government in the next general election.
Dr. Phillips is a well-seasoned politician with roots from his early days as a student leader at the University of the West Indies (Mona). He was also involved in justice for the Rastafarian community of which he became a part. Issues such as crime and violence in Jamaica need categorical reform and is a prime opportunity for an opposition candidate to take up as campaign vision. However, I believe that both political parties need to work together on the vision to root out the monster that has critically maligned the growth of the Jamaican society.
The economy is a central factor in politics as people are constantly looking to not just survive but thrive holistically. Both the United States and Jamaica, have been pushing to restart full-scale economic activities while being cautious about the safety of its citizens due to the global COVID19 pandemic. How much will the state of the economy weigh in the elections for the United States and Jamaica? Albeit, there are issues that could detract and sway votes especially the racial tide that is now pummelling the United States. Meanwhile, crime and corruption in Jamaica continue to be one of the largest hurdles in getting people to actually go out to the polling stations irrespective of party lines and vote. There is a growing dissent to voting in Jamaica even though the current administration is working to improve their favourability with this populous which could be credited for their victory in 2016.
President Donald Trump has not been silent on the race issue but his response has not been favorable with the majority as they are expecting more. He has been swinging to economic growth as the ultimate ‘Make America Great Again’’ factor. Furthermore, he also underlines his focus on getting law and order back on the streets so that the protests do that curtail the resuscitation of the economy from the hit of the global COVID19 pandemic. However, there is a growing disadvantage with addressing this race issue, and it is not to allow this sensitive time in history for healing to become a placating political football devoid of tangible reform.
Presidential candidate for the Democrats, Joe Biden, has been criticizing the response of President Trump on the issue of racism while indicating his willingness to address the systemic racial reform needed for African Americans. He is in support of Congress banning police using chokeholds and improving oversight and accountability. Presently, the hope is for the judicial system to really set precedence in meting out the justice needed for the unlawful killing of George Floyd and for everyone to become socially conscious to holding every law enforcement official accountable to carry out his duty responsibly as they expect citizens to do. The discussion is wildly moving to defund the police force which is a negative double-barrelled approach to an organization that serves citizens in protecting them and upholding the law and order of society. In fairness, President Trump is continuing to focus on improving America for all while shifting to ensure that minority issues are addressed which includes the black community. Joe Biden is yet to present a clear plan of action on dissolution to the systemic racial reform even though he continues to speak out against it.
The race is on to see if the people polls will favor voting for continued economic growth and real results over a lack of clear plans and uncertainties. Also, it could be a time for bipartisanship to merge on issues and improve the well being of everyone despite left or right wings or green and orange. The time is pertinent for such a change especially in this season where people are looking for political representatives to take action for their best interest now.
Coming Soon: Part Two: What could be the political deal-breakers of 2020 in the United States and Jamaica?