THE late civil rights activist American Congressman John Lewis said that “your vote is precious, almost sacred. It is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have to create a more perfect union.”
These are true words, cutting through all the noise made by politicians and their minions. With general elections later this year or next year for certain, we are asking Saint Lucians of votable age to fulfil this powerful duty. Come out and vote, utilise this powerful yet nonviolent tool we each possess to make Saint Lucia a better place for ourselves and our children.
Make no mistake, we are living in a pivotal moment in our history. Not only are we grappling with a pandemic, economic inequality and instability, widespread unemployment, climate change, a rising wave of crime crowned by a swiftly rising murder rate, we are also seeing an unprecedented rise in talk shows all in a frenzy, fighting to control our minds so as to dictate how we think.
There is so much riding on who we give the reins of government to that we, as a people, just cannot afford right now to fail in our duty in getting the government of our choice for the next five years.
Therefore, now is the time for us to take stock of all that has transpired over the past four to five years and ask ourselves pertinent questions relating to the economic development of our country and, by extension, of each one of us and for us to fight for what we believe.
How many of the men and women who present themselves for election can ensure each of us a life lived with dignity? How much can they reduce economic inequality, provide sustainable employment and contribute to a brighter future for each one of us?
The answers to these questions are not always easy to arrive at, but if we take time to compare the governance of this administration, and that of the previous there is a good chance we will get the government we deserve.
To the majority of us, love of a political party will not put food on our tables, neither will it pay our bills! Today the COVID-19 pandemic has created an economy where the majority of Saint Lucians are struggling to pay their bills, their rent, their mortgages, buy food, and more.
Therefore, the next administration must have a zero-tolerance level for food insecurity, zero-tolerance for malfeasance and corruption in government and the public service, zero-tolerance for violent crime, zero-tolerance for unemployment, zero-tolerance for foreign partners, entrepreneurs and developers who cannot provide Saint Lucian workers a fair wage for their labours, etc.
We need an administration selflessly committed to rebuilding the economy of our country. We need an administration that understands there is a right way of doing things, both inside and outside of government so as to create order and decency in the country. We need an administration which is willing to work for the vulnerable in this country, eliminate nepotism, cronyism and with vigour uphold ethical standards.
And so yes, the stakes are high and who we place in government for the next five years will determine how we develop as a people in this ever-changing world.
But our duty does not end at the ballot box. We must hold our elected representatives, both government and opposition, to the highest standards of honesty, commitment and patriotism for the period during which our country is entrusted to them.