Reflections on Independence and Voting

On 19 February, 2013, two weeks after Grenadians would have celebrated 39 years of independence, we will exercise our right to vote for a party to form the government for the next five years.

Every election is important; however, this election comes at a pivotal moment. The outcome of the election could determine the direction of the country at a time of regional and global uncertainty.

Beyond the necessary ritual of colourful campaign rallies and party jingles, we are about to participate in a very important process that can affect our lives in direct ways for many years to come.

Often we take the right to vote for granted but it represents a long historical struggle for freedom. To refuse to vote is to violate the sacrifices made by those who paved the way so we could enjoy basic rights today.

Let us never take the right to vote for granted. In fact, the spirit of independence should inspire us to recommit ourselves to nationhood as we vote. The act of voting should be done soberly. It should be driven by a deep sense of responsibility to both party and country.

We should use our votes to fight for jobs and bread and butter issues. However, in addition, in order to sustain genuine independence, a conscious people must think beyond where they are now and envision the future they wish to create.

The vote should also be for improved educational opportunities as we continue to break the shackles of poverty and dependency, to provide hope for the young and yet unborn.

The vote should be for improved and sustained health care, especially for the least among us. We should vote to ensure every Grenadian woman, man and child enjoy safety in the home and in the public space.

We should vote to ensure that Grenada’s natural resources, in as far as is possible are owned and controlled by Grenadians. We should vote to ensure that Grenada conducts its foreign policy strategically and with dignity as it defines and presents itself to the region and the wider world.

In essence, as we enter those polling booths, at a moment of regional and global UNCERTAINTY, the vote should be for political leadership that can CAUTIOUSLY balance job creation, long-term economic transformation and overall societal well-being, while preserving our natural resources and protecting and enhancing Grenada’s independence and sovereignty.

In February 1974, Grenadians embarked on a journey for freedom in the pursuit of our collective prosperity and common destiny. However, while we have made tremendous strides as a nation, the experience has not always been what we had anticipated: there were some missteps, shortsightedness and collective impatience.

Consequently, after almost 40 years, the promise of independence needs renewal. Therefore, this election should represent a moment of deep reflection on our collective journey and a recommitment to nationhood.

(Dr. Wendy Grenade is a Grenadian who lectures in Political Science at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados)


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