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Purely Dominica

Purely Dominica

In the recent months, opposition parties including a few members of the civil society raise the issue of electoral reform – stressing the need for a better system of conducting the general elections in 2010 and beyond. In this regard, suggestions were made to Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit on how electoral reform can greatly avoid bloodshed and contention during and after the next general election.

But these persons who have been crying for equal access to state-owned media, a clean voters list and voter identification care have apparently forgotten the subtle issue of the funding of political campaigns.

The view that money tends to corrupt the political process was recently described by Wellington Ramos of Belize who on October 17, 2008 wrote an article on Caribbean Net News dot Com saying that:

“Two of the most dangerous thing that can happen to our democracy is to allow people with money to pay our citizen to vote for them to assume office and for people with money to use their funds to run for office even though they are not capable and competent to carry out the duties of the office they seek”.

Ramos further argues that in circumstances like these, where campaigns organized by poor people are funded by the rich, the officials that are elected will merely become string-puppets of the rich.

There is no doubt that money and politics are inseparable twin brothers. Money basically determines who runs, who wins and ultimately how they govern. And I’m sure that anyone who has witnessed political campaign here will attest to the fact that it takes a lot of money to run these campaigns. Take the last two elections for example, where the two major political parties spent millions of dollars on billboards; radio, television and newspaper advertising; organizing massive rallies; paying airline tickets for persons form the diaspora to return home to vote and the on-the-ground campaign from house to house and village to village.

In fact some political analysts speculate that the spending for the 2010 campaign will be the most expensive election campaign every held in Dominica. The recently held US Presidential election is prime example of how money is essential to win any election. President- elect Barack Obama, raised a staggering US$640.00 million, which Obama publicly disclosed to American People.

Hell would probably have to freeze over before any political party in Dominica publishes its source of funding. Do you recall Prime Minister Skerrit’s “It’s Not Your Damn Business” reaction when he was questioned about his party funding?

We need laws that will regulate the political corruption culture here in Dominica. Soon citizens will have little faith and confidence in their elected officials and they will, understandably, be unwilling to participate in the process of nation building.

In the interest of good and accountable government in Dominica – Do you think there should be laws in Dominica that regulates political campaigns? Should the Electoral Commission place a limit on expenditure for advertising during election campaigns, and demand full disclosure of political party financing? Let’s hear ’em comments.

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It struck me recently that a lot of people think they know what’s wrong with Dominica, and it also struck me that most of the time they’re all wrong.

Seriously take some time to observe — almost every political and religious group, every opinionated person, every publication with an opinion, has said at one time or another they think is wrong with Dominica.

On one hand, UWP thinks that we’ve become a state fill with corruption headed by the ruling party, while the labour thinks that it was poor leadership by former political parties like the UWP – why Dominica is in this present poor economic situation. Others think that abortion is the problem, others think it’s declining morals, and others say it’s infidelity.

Other things that are wrong with Dominica, depending on the group: the media, young people, environmentalists, white people, foreigners overrunning our country, the Establishment, poor people, Pirate sector businesses, lazy people, evil people, BBC Caribbean, the Internet … the list could go on and on.

So what’s really wrong with Dominica, in my opinion?

Not a thing.

You heard me! What’s Wrong with That?

Nothing’s wrong with that, actually. That’s how most people are, and I don’t think I can change that, nor would I want to. I thought it would be an interesting discussion, though, because I think the difference between what people think the island should be and what it has become can cause unhappiness. If you’re one of those people who want the country to go back to how it was during your childhood, or during your parents’ generation, and it isn’t likely to do so, you’re not going to be happy.

The same goes for any of our ideals — do you have an ideal spouse? An ideal child? An ideal friend, mother, co-worker or roommate? It’s very possible that you do, and also very possible that in reality not all meets these ideals. That might cause you to be unhappy with them.

So I guess it’s clear to say that whenever reality doesn’t meet ideals — and it rarely does — we become unhappy.

So What’s the Then?

I’m not suggesting that you, or anyone else, change your view-of-Dominica. If you, or anyone else, is happy with that view-of Dominica, don’t change it.

But there is an alternative, and I’m not saying it’s better. It’s the view-of Dominica I try to have: instead of having an ideal, stop looking for perfection. Accept our island as it is, and love it for what it is. Accept people as they are, and love them. Does this mean that we should give up on trying to make positive changes in Dominica?

What would be the result of this alternative view-of Dominica? Well, I think people would be happier, if only we didn’t see Dominica as a fundamentally flawed or corrupted place, and began to see the good on the island. This, however, is open to individual interpretation, and your own experience is likely to be different than mine. Go ahead…have you say.

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