I deplore the lack of political sophistication/maturity we exhibit in the Virgin Islands. We are courted and enticed with three S's (slogans, signs, and symbols) in the political sphere (not to mention t-shirts and fish fries, etc.) rather than strategic solutions to the myriad of problems we face. High and escalating cost of living; unreliable power; lack of adequate housing for many, if not most, residents; etc., are mostly not addressed by those seeking the public trust. Is it because they take us for granted or because they don't have any solutions? Are we giving them a free pass because they are family/neighbors/friends? What are they bringing to the table that would make this territory better than it is currently?
On Saturday, September 13, 2008 voters go to the polls in a primary election. It makes sense to hold primary elections when distinct political parties exist, but there are no real political parties in the Virgin Islands. What differentiates Democrats from ICMers other than symbols? What are the philosophies of the parties and what are their platforms? What are their solutions to the many problems we face in the territory? It is interesting to note how individuals run under a party umbrella (symbol) then decide to abandon party to form their own alliances once they are elected. Since there is no sanction for such behavior it is not totally irrational that party platforms do not exist to differentiate one group from another. What results is fifteen parties; each person uses the symbols and slogans he or she believes will propel them to victory when it's convenient because the important thing is not about the territory but each individual's ability to acquire his or her resources through the process. In other words, it pays to run. Public service no longer means community first.
A lady called one of the local afternoon call-in shows last Friday and stated an old axiom, "You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time." Why then do we, the voting public, continue to return the same individuals to positions of authority and trust when they are either unwilling (or incapable?) to provide real solutions to the problems we face? When will we say enough is enough? Many of our problems today are the result of a lack of past vision/foresight. Proverbs 29:18 states, "Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained."
Yet another relevant quote from the Book of Wisdom (The Holy Bible), " write the vision down, and make it plain that others may run with it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time " (Habakkuk 2:2-3). Don't we need to hear/see the vision these veterans/neophytes have for the territory? Old (or new) slogans/symbols are not visions.
It is time to reject the emotional appeal of those who seemingly are bereft of solutions. While this is an exciting and historical time in national politics, we need to make historical decisions right here at home. Too many of us seem more interested in whether Obama or McCain are elected, an issue where we as disenfranchised Americans have no influence, than which 15 senators in this territory will represent the best interest of the people. Obama's or McCain's election may make us feel good, and possibly provide some indirect benefits, but the 15 senators elected in November will have a direct impact on our prosperity/survival. Let's be more sophisticated in our choices in November.
P. G. Simmonds, Ph.D.
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