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Is the ‘silly season’ not getting sillier?

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Well, things are getting down to the wire with 10 days left before the ‘big day’, December 9. The silly season is surely living up to its name, as the whole country suffers from a serious bout of election fever, with some persons going berserk in the process. All sorts of accusations are being traded and lies peddled, without even a wink. At times, we seem to lose our sense of reasoning, as insults are paraded.{{more}} Would we ever be able to get back to a normal civilized society? I am beginning to wonder!

I am worried about the kind of money we are spending on our elections. From where does that money come and what have we committed in return? It is really frightening, since for some persons there is a lot at stake. Our politicians now try to show a different face. Do we by now not know who is real and who is false? We, the electors, should be kings at this time, but we are not, because politicians who control heavy purses are able to manoeuvre us and make us feel weak and accept that this is how it should be. I have always said that politicians do what they think they can get away with. All things are happening overnight, as roads that have not been fixed for the past five years are now being fixed in a hurry. Things that would have appeared impossible months ago are now being done at breakneck speed.

Are we really voting cattle that could be manipulated at election time, a time when we should be the ones dictating? Are we unable to get on top of things and identify what is a fabrication of the silly season, as opposed to the real thing and the real being? It is amazing to look and see how things play themselves out and how we are transformed into mindless beings. As we make the trek to the polls, what determines how we vote? Do we simply vote how our parents did? Do we just vote for those who could provide us with handouts? Have we examined the persons who are asking us for our votes? Are their policies likely to benefit us? Do we accept all of this as a game that we play once every five years, even if we starve after? Do we think at all before we vote? On December 9, we will get to a critical point in our so-called democracy. Our task is really to make serious decisions on whom we elect to serve us, but many of us do not take this seriously. We are given a chance to exercise a right that our grandparents and great grandparents never had, but yearned for.

We put up with a lot and suck salt, as the saying goes. Do we really believe that this is our lot and are therefore prepared to simply accept things for very short-term gains? We are a sensible people, so what goes wrong? Why have we suspended our ability to determine what is right from what is wrong? Some years ago a man from Bequia, who later migrated to Australia, used to say that if the ordinary man/woman has a vote, he should get six. I had a heated debate with him in the newspapers. His argument was that he didn’t think persons whom he considered semi-literate should have the same vote as him. When you examine the situation carefully, the persons who screw things up and who help to perpetuate a system that is ill and corrupt are the so-called educated ones, as the gentleman described himself. In 1950, when on introducing Adult Suffrage it was felt that there should be a literacy test, George McIntosh railed about this. He saw the so-called illiterate or semi-illiterate person as one with basic common sense. In any event, as he argued, they are the ones who needed representation more than ever in the Legislative Council. Eventually, the position he took became the one that was accepted, even though the final decision had nothing to do with him. There was still some strange clause that said something to the effect that candidates could be barred if they were unable to read or write the English language with a degree of proficiency or something to that effect. Mrs Joshua, the wife of Ebenezer, was hauled up on this issue. Mrs Joshua was one who identified with and fought for the people she represented.

Now is 2015 and we live in serious times. Britain no longer decides for us. We have that responsibility for ourselves; but how do we go about this business? What of those among us who try to manipulate things not in the interest of the people they are supposed to be serving, but for their own self-interest, as they become intoxicated with power. But ultimately, power is not with them. They never seem to take this into account when they are about their business. There is a higher power that dictates the fortunes of man. We could do only so much. Even if we do not call them to account, that higher power will. But we have a responsibility to carefully examine those we have sent to represent us and those who ask for the right to do so. This is serious business, but we treat it like a joke. It should dawn on us that this can no longer be treated as a joke, since we live in difficult times and need persons who are not only competent, but have our interest at heart. We must take our vote seriously.

It is the only power we have.

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.

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