Politics is More Than Idealism

Politicians in their bid to convince voters they are the best candidate often use appealing clichés as part of their rhetoric. They most often make references to “change” as in change of course or people such as putting the interest of people first over special interest.

In fact, these are deceptive by design and voters should be wary of those who come calling with too many promises of change. In hindsight, this could be said of the Jamaica Labor Party in their campaign in the Jamaican general election concluded in September, and can be said about Obama and others in the present election cycle for US President.

My first full memory of anything having to do with elections was while living in Jamaica . It was an exciting time for those who believed in the socialist revolution promised by Michael Manley, that his brand of socialism was the answer to all problems. Even at the tender age of 10 years old, I could sing the songs and understood the ideology enough to be caught up in supporting his candidacy.

His ideas were that of an idealist, a dreamer much like that of today’s Obama. For although Obama is not portraying himself as a socialist and the intent is not to paint him as such – his ideals to come into Washington and change things wholesale is not achievable. That rhetoric may be good at rallying the left wing of the Democratic Party in the primary, however soon he will be required to address issues of a much more serious nature than playing to populism.

It may be a Republican dream to have a candidate that has committed himself so far left that he finds it difficult to move to center during the general election. Ammunition that the Clinton and Edward camps are now wary of using will be like red meat to the republican operatives.

If the swift boating of John Kerry is to serve as any guide, Obama will have to be ready to fight an uphill battle that is already stacked against him. Democrats are uneasy about using the race card, but Republicans are not as fickle on wrecking the Obama train, regardless of its velocity.

There are many of us, who would like to see Obama in the White House for what it represents. It would be a monumental change to the image of the United States and that of blacks, not only in America, but worldwide.

Pondering a question to this candidate, if given the opportunity, took a long time for me to frame due to the enormity of the situation. I would ask candidate Obama, does he really believe the content and promises of his political rhetoric, or is he like all the others playing upon the hunger in the American electorate for someone who would really put their collective interest above that of party politics, special interest groups and big corporations?

As the current Prime Minister of Jamaica, Bruce Golding is finding out, being on the outside of government criticizing is much easier than governing a country where crime, unemployment, corruption and economic decay are rampant – to right the sinking ship requires much more than idealistic dreams. Jamaica as it has on many other occasions continues under Golding to experience difficulties in controlling the merchants of death.

If he were to significantly reduce this one issue – most of the country would be eternally grateful. Compound this issue with others such as the fight over the constitutional appointments, wayward members of parliament and the mess over investment clubs then one understand why more Jamaicans of repute do not seem interested in representational politics.

Obama on the other hand would, if elected president as many hope, carry the burden of the world requiring him to make decisions that put the lives of American military personnel in harms way. He may be forced to use the nuclear option to eliminate threats and secretly sanction covert operations – few Americans could conceive.

It is important that he convince himself first that he believes in his brand of ideology before imparting it on unsuspecting voters whose thirst for truthful representation continue to see him like many saw Michael Manley in Jamaica’s 1976 election.

Manley for his part was recently inducted as the first Jamaica to the International Civil Rights Hall of Fame. His idealism and global fight for justice continues to influence lives today, even though he is seen by many as controversial. He continues to be one of Jamaica’s most revered statesman. Bruce Golding and candidate Obama would do well to read his “Politics of Change”.

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