The US Virgin Islands has three official political parties, namely: The Democratic Party, the Republican Party and the only homegrown, the Independent Citizens Movement, VI or the ICM Party, VI. These political organizations offer the electorate certain options based on established platform and or traditions. However, there is a fourth option, the No-party category within the electoral system. This category is the second largest group after the Democratic Party.
The democratic system of government involves the governed in the selection and election of their representatives in government. The people are the sovereign; the people are the government in theory, through their elected and appointed representatives. In the democratic system of government, the will of the majority is expected to rule, in reality that does not usually happen. It should be our objective to ensure that the will of the majority prevails. The political parties are supposed to offer the electorate definite options, programs or political platform addressing the issues confronting the community.
The political parties are to present to the electorates their political platform based of their particular political philosophy. Some may even have a mission statement or an outline of their philosophy, which is the basis of their political platform. That is a fundamental difference between the political parties and the No-party movement. The growth of the No-party movement is the result of the electorate being disillusioned with the current political parties that have failed to carry out their functions in a transparent and discipline manner. The parties have become self-serving as the people that make up the leadership and some members. The electorate is looking for representatives that put the interest of the people, of the community above their personal ambition and interests.
We the people need to reassert the power granted us by the US Constitution and the laws of the US Virgin Islands, the Organic Act of 1954 as amended. Being empowered by statutes, it is our right, our responsibility to exercise our duty of governing ourselves through our representatives in government. It is intended that the political parties would offer representatives who would promote the agenda, the platform of their party. However, unfortunately these party representatives have been failing to represent the platform of their party, replacing it with their own agenda. This has lead to disappointment and frustration of the citizens, causing the lost of reputation and influence of the political parties. Thus, the growth of the No-party movement. Many citizens, including those registered to a particular party would say: "The I do not vote the party anymore, I vote for the individual candidate."
I believe the St. Thomas district Board of Elections was right in not opening up all of the polling places due to the reduced participation of the electorate in primaries. The economical consideration cited is justifiable, for not opening all the polling stations. The less polling stations, the less money spent for a low turn of voters. The legislature had removed the responsibility of conducting primaries from the Board of Elections and placed them with the individual parties. The Democratic Party true to their tradition, of having the government pay for almost everything, prevailed in getting the Board of Elections to continue to conduct primaries for the parties, the cost of the primaries to be borne as usual by all the taxpayers. There are other methods of selecting candidates other than primaries that would not cost the taxpayers that much money. We encourage the citizens to take a stand on the primary issue, the parties should be made to underwrite their own primaries, and political parties are non-governmental organizations. Let us reduce the cost to the government, by relieving it of functions that should be done by others. We should reduce government spending whenever and wherever we can.
J. J. Estemac
Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to email@example.com.