Leadership reboot needed
There are 15 elected representatives in the Legislative Assembly in the Cayman Islands, earning total salaries of approximately CI$1.9 million per year. They were elected on the basis that they would use their incredible power and influence over the country's laws, policies and the indirect influence over the civil service to improve the standard of living of all residents in this country. They are also especially accountable politically to Caymanians.
These men and lady are presented to us as representing two political parties with the exception of the independent member from North Side.
From a policy/philosophical perspective it is near impossible to find any useful distinction between these two groups. At this stage all we know or can deduce as amateurs on the outside is the following: one uses the colours green and blue, seems to be slightly more into doing things to get the economy moving, seems susceptible to attracting allegations of corrupt practices (particularly at the very top), and has a chaotic/autocratic leadership style fused with lack of statesmanship most of the time.
The other group uses the colours red and blue, is responsible for one of the worse displays of financial mismanagement in the country's history in their last term in office, has a reputation for leading too passively, is notorious for its anti foreigner rhetoric, has respect for good governance, is not susceptible to allegations of corrupt practices and generally seems to conduct itself in a more respectable and statesmanlike manner.
The problem is that not much in the above (aside from the corruption susceptibility and statesmanship issue) gives us any compelling reason to choose one group over the other. Unfortunately it gets worse; there is certainly nothing in the differences mentioned above that indicates which group is capable of improving the current local economic situation in which the country finds itself.
The brief history goes something like this: the Red Team were swept into power largely on the basis that the Green Team were alleged to be corrupt based on media reports and the fact that the Green Team granted Cayman status to approximately 3,000 persons. All this played perfectly well into the hands of the Red Team, who are of course overly protectionist and certainly seem to be much better at good governance and diplomacy.
Unfortunately when given the opportunity, the Red Team also did nothing for the economy, spewing out lots of anti foreigner sentiments along the way, essentially screwed up public finances, and did not produce a single set of financial statements during their four years in office.
In 2009 the Green Team were swept back into office, rightly pointing out the Red Team's deficiencies during their campaign, and promising to set things right.
It's been 3 years. And we are all still waiting for the fix to occur. Aside from the initial flurry in its first 9 or 10 months in office where, to its credit, the current government stabilized the financial fallout, it has done next to nothing to address the many issues that this country is facing. And worse, along the way it has managed to put itself (yes, you guessed it) right back into that "alleged corruption" space that it always seems to gravitate towards.
So where does that leave us?
While the so-called parties have not presented us with any meaningful ways to choose between them, we at least now know a bit more about their capabilities as a group from recent years. We do know that the Cayman Islands has not improved much over the past 11 years. We know that neither group wishes to truly look into the causes of our many social and economic problems. And it is also clear that neither group can avoid the temptation of distracting themselves (and us) with silly politics aimed only at maintaining their jobs at the next election and subjecting us to that CI$1.9 million salary bill that none of us can afford but are forced to pay nonetheless.
So we may not be any better off but at least we have got a bit wiser along the way. The upcoming 2013 election campaign will be swamped with red and green shirts, fridges, stoves, a little cash here and there (on the QT) and lots of promises. But what this country needs are individuals who genuinely can demonstrate that they understand the issues this country is facing and in no uncertain terms that they have solutions to address those issues. Anything less and the potential candidates are seeking only to steal upwards of CI$2.2 million dollars in wages from the people of this country (taking into account the three additional seats to come in 2013).
That is the standard by which we must hold them. We must ask them what they are going to do, why and how. If they don't wish to engage us with this brand of politics, accountability and style of discourse, we must continue to look for anyone, political party or not, who fits the bill. And if we don't like the answers they give we should move on to the next candidate.
The situation in this country at this stage is far too serious to entertain this red and green team game. We must forget not only the colour shirts borne by each party, but we must also avoid sticking our friends and family into these "party groupings", which is a practice that is slowly destroying our small community.
In the end, if we are not careful, the soon to be 18 representatives will gain a nice fat salary check and our lives will only continue to get worse. Of course, we can all turn to the blogs and each other to vent when that happens, but that won't address any of our issues.
It's time for a leadership change. A change that gets us at least closer to a group of leaders that want to do things properly, crafting solutions based on the best information and analysis, taking the tough decisions when they are the right ones for the country, conducting themselves like leaders of a country that is seen to be sophisticated (and not like a banana republic), and taking us into a new era to rebuild this country. Let's make this group of individuals the best we can, irrespective of their party affiliations. We control the ballot so this is definitely our choice, not theirs.
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