‘We must change our politics’

Denise Miller can’t understand why people of her age say they aren’t interested in politics.

They talk about political issues all the time.

“Immigration, poverty, crime, unemployment, the cost of living and protection of the environment are all political issues,” Ms Miller, 27, told an audience of hundreds at a weekend meeting of the People’s Progressive Movement. “But the minute I mention politics, I almost always get a cringe and a lecture about politics being lame, full of corruption and completely irrelevant to our lives.”

In Ms Miller’s view, politics is all about life.

“For me, politics is about the issues that affect people and the world around them,” she said.

“Many…might think that young people don’t care about politics, but every day thousands of people in this country turn to the person next to them and talk about the shooting, stabbing, mugging that occurred the night before.”

Often, the suspect in these cases is a young person, Ms Miller said; a young person that is unemployed.

In some of the more recent crimes that have occurred on Grand Cayman, both the suspect and sometimes the victims, are young people.

An American couple that was robbed on Barefoot Beach earlier this month described one of their assailants as a teenager; a suspect arrested in the weekend shooting at an East End home was 18-years-old, three students were also the victims of an alleged robbery near the Truman Bodden Sports Center that occurred in broad daylight Monday.

Ms Miller said part of the job of politicians and government is to provide opportunities so the younger generation doesn’t turn to crime and become more involved in their communities.

“When we don’t invest in the education of our young people, we end up with unemployment problems and unemployability problems,” she said.

Prospective employers can also judge young employees based on “the bad experiences of a few people who went through a school system that let them slip through the cracks”.

“Yes, there are those of us who went through that very same system and succeeded in spite of it, but don’t all those kids deserve a chance to succeed?”

New PPM leader Alden McLaughlin said part of the job of political parties in Cayman in the coming months must be to get younger voters involved, and to take some ownership of the political process.

To do that, he said, politics must become less about personalities and more about the issues involved – issues that actually affect people. “It is really not party politics…that people are unhappy with,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “It is the politics of the parties they are complaining about. We must change our politics,” he said.

There have been early signs that several high-profile independent candidates will seek election in the next cycle, possibly even forming a third organisation ahead of the expected 2013 vote. Whether that third group is to be called a party or a team is immaterial, Mr. McLaughlin said.

“The truth is, Cayman is used to party politics, whether most people realise it or not,” he said. “There is nothing inherently wrong with party politics.”