Voting is not foreign to typical Jamaicans.  They vote for head of staff associations, president of their social clubs, committee heads in their church and community groups. They have an interest in how things are run.  However, when it comes to voting for those who will assume responsibility for national development, there is a nonchalance that permeates the psyche.

They speak about a lack of interest, blame the political system for apathy and take little interest in the process of participation.  Yet, they have a lot to say about outcome. 

A man stood on the outside of a restaurant refusing to enter and order his steak until the waiter brought those ordered by the patrons inside.  He walked in and started to eat one of the steaks.  Immediately he complained that his steak was not well done as required and he had the right to get what he wanted. 

The chef appeared and explained the man hadn’t participated in the ordering process (which was his right) and those who did had first opportunity to voice their disapproval.  Also, simply walking in and taking a plate disregarded those who sat patiently waiting.  The man stormed out, insisting he had a right and could use it any way he saw fit.

As a citizen you’re entitled to access all basic provisions of the state in health care, education, housing, water and so on.  You have the awesome power and right to decide who has stewardship of resources in your community.  Why do you see it as important to choose how your children live and want to play a pivotal role in their future and the outcome?   You are aware of the awesome responsibility, more importantly, you acknowledge that leaving it in the hands of others will likely produce bad outcomes.

“I pay my taxes, I am entitled to get results”, is slightly misguided. Why? Paying your taxes is a legal obligation and those who participate in the democratic process get to determine what should be done with your taxes when you don’t participate.  It is simple.  The residents of  X community pay taxes, only fifty percent of them vote.  After election results, they make demands of the MP for better roads as a priority.  However, you think your tax dollars should be used to provide water as a priority, but the MP says “the residents elected me and stated they wanted roads as a priority, I have a duty to provide it”.

Another example: 

We all paid money to purchase meat for the community barbeque, but when we were voting on which meat to buy, you didn’t participate.  On the day of the barbeque you raise hell at the fact you are not a pork eater and your opinion should have been considered…especially since you also paid your money.  If you refused to participate in the process, how did you expect to determine the outcome?  Voting is more than a choice to use, it is a right to choose.  Think about it.