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Frolicking with power?


To maintain democracy and to achieve justice, it is often necessary for the civil to ‘invade’ non-civil spheres to demand certain kinds of reforms, and to monitor them through regulation in turn. Jeffrey Alexander, in ‘The Civil Sphere’ 2006, OUP.

General elections in St Vincent and the Grenadines are a festival. {{more}}Our citizens are generally turned into a mass parade and our leaders masquerade as circus ringmasters, even clowns, when appropriate. Money goes into lubricated partisan pockets and to performers and a variety of court jesters. This is the pattern that governing parties set for opposing parties to follow and they do try to follow. One result is that while ‘Democracy should rest on the people’s independent production of a new kind of power,’ too many Vincentian citizens, with power tools in our heads and hands, sell our voting power for a disneyland cruise, then return to the ashes of enslavement. Can we turn this election festival into a different frolic, a movement for a new kind of power? It is possible.


Whom do we choose? On Election Day each voter is invited to vote for a candidate who will become the representative of the citizens for the constituency in the National Parliament. ‘The candidates should come to the people in the constituency and give an introduction about who they are, and why they want us to select them in the polling booth.’

I like that suggestion from a friend. Come and meet us, man to man, woman to woman, in clean and decent conversation. We will listen closely, take notes and consult together as a community that wants to go forward, but wants to choose a person-leader whom we have assessed and who has our confidence. Let us see, not the party horse who is already saddled to carry a party cargo; we want a constituency servant, alongside us and in front us. All candidates for each constituency, come to the society meeting, prepare yourself and talk truth to us. We will go home and reflect, consult, pray, and get back to you all, either before, or on Election Day. Do not dismiss the possibility that constituency members may not be satisfied with what any of you present. Be sensitive to our feelings, please.

What are we looking for? Call it voter respect, or space for us to talk first, then to listen to you as you answer us in the constituency. What are your plans for pulling together the business enterprises in the communities and our social capital with public support, to galvanise a local economy that is productive and competitive in products and employment? Is a new farming system that embraces healthy agricultural practices, an inclusive farm to consumer value chain, and a recovery of social and personal dignity in agriculture on the agenda at this time? There is so much that we want to get a leadership to commit itself to, like the sexual transformation or transitions of our young girls and boys, the management of material desire, resources, and hate, the redefinition of the good life, the definition of politics as princely tricks. Many things concern us which never enter the conversation when we are left out of the dialogue at election time. That is why we want to agree that as people who are citizens and voters, we must invade the elections festival with our own ‘Mas Band’. And even if it looks like ‘Ole Mas’, our frolic is to enter a new kind of power into the arena of Democracy.

We are going to claim the election season as a season of the citizens’ revolt. We begin to turn away from the Mass Parade behind the party circus and reach to choose our representatives based on our own criteria. The power is in our heads and in our hands.