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As Dominicans looks towards new general elections in Dominica in 2010, there are many strategies that local political parties can adopt from the Obama presidential campaign. In fact the Dominica Freedom Party has already adopted one: the DFP said it intends to raise money via the internet. But that strategy many h ave limited success since only about ten percent of Dominicans now have access to the internet.

One other lesson we can learn from the Obama campaign it that polities do not always have to be nasty and can be based on the discussion of issues rather than the slinging of mud. Dominican politicians would benefit from emulating the graciousness that john McCain showed after he lost the elections.

Yes, Obama was tough on McCain and his connection to Bush but he did not delve in the gutter polities than the Republicans have developed into an art form. Is it too naive to expect Dominican politicians to adopt a new style to politics and grow out of the corrupt political culture that, unfortunately have characterized election campaigning in the past.

There is no doubt that Obama’s success has made a massive impact on the psyche of Dominicans, and with words like “Yes, we can” and “Change we can believe in” echoing through everyone minds, we may be advised to seriously consider the things we need to change if we are interested in building a secure future for Dominica.

If Dominican politicians are to embrace the example of the Republicans and Democrats, there is one issue that has to be settled. That is electoral reform. Elections must not only be free and fair but must be perceived to be free and fair.

Finally, Dominicans have to change their general attitude to work. It’s obvious that unless there is a great improvement in production and productivity in all sectors, there will not be any positive changes in the level of employment, and Dominica’s brains and brawn will continue to migrate. There are just a few of the changes we should believe in as an island nation.

What are some other changes you think Dominicans on a whole should believe in. let’s hear them in the comments.

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2 Comments »

Comment by pete Subscribed to comments via email
2008-12-08 14:37:16

I believe there are much more than 10% of Dominicans with access to the internet. Do not forget that the percentage with access include those with mobile internet and work internet, as well internet cafe access. And if you add the Dominican diaspora portion to that, it could easily double whatever that figure is. In fact the lesson from the last elections is that the Dominicans overseas can affect election results! Dominicans are more plugged in to technology than ever before. Witness the number of options available in terms of service providers and instruments for internet and cell phone service for example. The real issue might be how many locals would use their credit cards for such purposes (donating to parties). Of course we know that less than 5% of local Dominicans have credit cards so even if 30% of locals have access to internet say, then you still have to see what that means in terms of who can make the transaction.

However, one should not forget that one can easily contribute via cellphone through texting, without surfing the net. Dominicans have been known to do that in the past and money has been raised that way. Indeed this might be the most practical way to raise large amounts of small contributions. Period. (Freedom party and others, please pay attention).

So, it’s less of an issue of the percentage of Dominicans with access (there is a considerable number), but more a question of how many will contribute at all, and in what number. Certainly Dominicans and other lobbyists overseas will be able to use the internet for convenient donations, so that is always a plus. As for the locals…hmm..I have a feeling that the broad masses are more interested in what is there in it for them: the fete, freebies etc, than digging into their pockets. It is no secret that (apart from fund raisers and perhaps use of state resources) it is the business people and well-to-do and foreigners (including governments and other organizations) who tend to be sponsors of political parties in Dominica. What the parties need to do however, is to be able to articulate their manifestos, statements, speeches, sound bites etc in a commanding, perhaps innovative way, on the internet or elsewhere (text messages too). Maybe it may take strategic buying of air time on the tv stations for example. There is no clear one size fits all strategy. What works for the US may not work in small island politics. And politics will be POLITRICKS. Its always a dirty game in the small islands. One thing is clear though: having deep pockets is a clear advantage!

I agree that attitudes to work should change. It won’t change however with a rallying cry and stirring speech. It has to start with discipline in education followed by insistence in terms of standards of excellence and training at work. Building family values and community spirit helps. It also helps if the powers that be set the pace in a calculated way. For example having a week dedicated to productivity and customer service.

The major change issue on the island I would like to see a change in is really strategic planning. It starts with the leadership and thought process of the parties even before taking office. Promises made in that regard (with the manifestos for example) must be put in practice, and we must hold their foot to the fire once they (the politicians) get into office. There are lots of ideas which have been well documented and lots of consultations have been held with members of the public, party officials, the diaspora, as well as the “experts” on strategic initiatives on items of national significance. At the end of the day, what happens? Politics rules the day of course. Just take three big issues: economic diversification, the international airport and major roads development… Is there a clear strategy? Sometimes you would think that the government is trying to re-invent the wheel on the same vital issues every 4 years, just to claim the credit! Why can’t there be agreement on long term plans of vital interest to the country – even if it takes 8 years to completely execute? If plans must drag on for an inordinately long period (eg lack of funds), let at least the plan be clear and reasonable milestones defined so that, work is seen to be accomplished!

There is insufficient big picture thinking on other issues of vital significance, even survival. I am not pointing fingers on one particular party. We are all responsible as a nation. But of course the onus is on the government (and opposition) of the day to put partisan politics aside and integrate all ideas, even if the ruling party do not take the credit at the end of the day! Of course we know that is a tall order for small island politics. But, as I always say, the government leaders should realize that they are the servants of the people!

 
Comment by Venus Subscribed to comments via email
2008-12-12 14:31:50

Pete I agree on most of what you said.. but particularly, I COMPLETELY UNDESTAND and AGREE with you on one specific point!

“There is insufficient big picture thinking on… issues of vital significance.”

It seems lke all the governments that have served in my time, have all done a little here.. a little there.. just to gain votes. When will there be a government who will formulate a national development plan that will cover issues of economic, infrastructural and SOCIAL development. Instead.. we run around like mother hens… doing this that and the other. It is especially sad when all these political parties have some semblance of intelligent following.

If only one government could develop a LONG TERM plan! One that considers global, regional and national trends, identifies our needs in that context, and develop a strategy and time pan to address those needs over time. Then perhaps if they do lose the next election ( because many prefer “build a bridge” politics) , the suceeding Government will just continue along with those plans.

WIth our eagerness and enthusiasm re the American electioons and the ensuing Obama victory, i was hoping that the Dominican electorate could learn some valuable lessons. More than just how to raise funds, but

1. what they should grow to expect and ACCEPT from it’s leaders.

2. Through all the rhetoric and mud slinging- look for the substance. What are the PLANS that these candidates are offering. Are they feasible/ possible?

Maybe when we grow up and start demanding more of our leaders, then they will begin to understand that they are dealing with an intelligent electorate who will by no mens accept mediocrity, and excuse it as “small island politics”. WE MUST BE THE CHANGE!! YES WE CAN!!

 
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