“Do not let them take away your power. Don’t let them take away your democracy. Plan right now for how you are going to get involved and vote. Do it as early as you can and tell your family and friends how they can vote too.” Barack Obama
No one who lived through it will ever forget the year 2020. Twenty years after we raised glasses to the millennium we were burying unprecedented numbers of people because of a pandemic and we were also sitting on the edge of our seats, watching the United States General Elections.
In Britain, we were muddling along in a divorce case with Europe.
It seemed like the year 2020 had been set aside as another one of those pivotal points, gargantuan in every way when compared to the 2008 financial crisis. The most intelligent people in our societies were breathlessly trying to find solutions, whilst the politicians did their best (which at times was nothing short of their worst) to reassure the masses that ‘everything was going to be ok’.
One wonders who Donald Trump’s advisors (the ones he didn’t fire quickly) were when he decided to tell everyone about his solution to Covid-19 and comedians enhanced their portfolio of funny lines as a result of the ex-President’s ill-advice. ‘Fake news’ hit our screens like never before. Politics has always gone hand in hand with humour but it is hardly funny to millions of people when someone like Donald Trump ends up in office.
The first woman of colour being elected as Vice President, Kamala Harris symbolises so much. Yet, across the pacific in New Zealand, Jacinta Ardern has been quietly doing her thing and it shows that we don’t all have to have a loud and deafening pitch.
A Pub in Merseyside, Liverpool temporarily named itself ‘The Three Bellends’ with a picture of Johnson, Handcock and Cummings. Typical Liverpool humour. Whilst I was in lockdown in Liverpool, Mayor Joe Anderson was being investigated for all sorts of financial irregularities.
Politics can often offer up too bleak a picture.
As I clambered onto a flight from Billy Bishop City Airport in Toronto to fly to Montreal in February 2020, I met a lady from the Mohawk Community of Canada. I listened. I was flying instead of taking the scenic (eco-friendly) route by train because the railways had been blockaded by First National Communities (FNCs) in resistance to more oil pipes running through their sacred lands. They were never there to sign the constitution, consultation was limited to those who had deemed themselves fit to Govern a land they knew very little about, including the spiritual aspects, basically nature. Now, as individuals’ rights and beliefs have become more important than profit for some, with climate change battering even the most staunch cynics, we are trying to apologise and include.
I shiver to think what would have happened had Trump succeeded to another term. He wouldn’t have only further impacted on the people of the USA but his power-hungry tactics would have seen the world further crippled, including the First National Communities of Canada. When did life become so cheap to us? Power in the wrong hands is scary.
Since the dawn of time, Governance has gone hand in hand with every other aspect of our way of life. Often the overlap between religion and politics brought wrath down on ‘heretics’. Interestingly, even as early as Dante’s Divine Comedy and the mid-19th Century Renaissance, so emerged similar ideology in the form of the Fabian Society which made up part of the early Labour Party movement.
Politics can get so nasty and underhand at times that people get sick and even die. Yet, there is so much that has been done which has allowed better healthcare, law enforcement, infrastructure, economies, education etc. I have to remember this before I criticise.
Politics gets tricky when individual ‘puppet masters’ with lots of money start going to work on the politicians who could choose to remember that public service bridges inequality in a way that the private sector cannot. Politics gets tricky when the lust for power, money and status increases. It gets tricky when we can sit at our tables and eat our dinners, with little contemplation for those who are really struggling to make ends meet.
The general elections on Saint Helena Island is coming up. With a small population of four and half thousand people, never before, has our vote been so important. With the need for change, never has our vote been more important. With the need for inequality divides to be bridged, never has our vote been more important. With the need for optimism and working together, never has our vote been more important. With the realism around costs associated to starting new business initiatives, never has our vote been more important. With future generations hoping for a dollop of optimism to come their way, never has out vote been more important.
We can make apologies for the past but if we continue to make the same mistakes, those apologies will fall on deaf ears. If we want external investment, we need to prove that our due-diligence, our legislation can accommodate the expertise of outside investment. Our aptitude for honesty is more important than ever before. Never before has accountability been vital. For all of us. The window of trial and error is becoming narrower.
We need to pay more attention to the detail. We encourage new businesses, yet the cost to start a new business here on the island is challenging. So we turn to external investors, and I just hope that we understand what that requires so that we can provide the necessary space to for them to grow, to employ and to enrich our economy.
With this new Ministerial Government, there will be groups trying to grab a majority no doubt. The Chief Minister, a formidable position. We need someone who will question, who will stay the course, yet understand the virtues of making really tough decisions. I believe in you. I believe in those candidates that care about more than money, power, stature, benefits. I hope that our negotiations can include deep listening, detail and compassion. I believe in the candidates that believe in themselves and have understood that the real work, starts with themselves.
Whether Bush, Obama, May or Johnson……behind these leaders was a support network. A support system that understood the political wheels of motion. As candidates go forward, I hope they have behind them someone or people that understand the journey and its peaks and troughs. I would suggest that politics can sometimes be a very lonely life. Will that support network be kind when they are wrong and ground them when they are right? The age of big egos is causing untold damage to our societies.
I am going to vote because I believe in democracy and change and I believe in those folk who will come forward to be agents of change in the public sector so that we can all benefit. I will vote, because women were once not allowed to vote. Many women suffered much so that I could vote today. I will vote because no matter where I am in this great world, this little island in the South Atlantic Ocean will always be my home.