The Cayman Islands is a small community, particularly when
it comes to politics and voting.
Even with the recent rapid growth of the voters’ lists,
fewer than 20,000 people – roughly one-third of what is believed to be the
islands’ total population – will be eligible to cast ballots in the upcoming
May general elections.
So, one might be forgiven for mistaking politics in Cayman
as a family affair, as Community Affairs Minister Dwayne Seymour did during
last week’s media briefing.
Asked why he didn’t speak up earlier, regarding the
placement of a new waste management facility in the Midland Acres area of
Bodden Town if he thought it was a bad idea, Mr. Seymour replied: “I’m sure
that a lot of people have squabbles in their family, but they don’t come out
and say it on the radio.”
Yes, we can understand why Mr. Seymour, a first-termer in
the Legislative Assembly, might say something like that.
But it is a mistake, all the same.
Members of the Legislative Assembly are elected by members
of the voting public and, as in any democracy, are chosen to uphold a sacred
trust. It is to the voters who the elected members of the legislature are
ultimately and firstly responsible. Somehow that has been misinterpreted by
many politicians over time, to mean loyalty and responsibility to political
organisation first, campaign donors second and maybe, if there’s time later,
we’ll talk about the people who elected us third.
This, perhaps, is the most valid concern that independent
members seeking office in the upcoming election raise when it comes to
political parties. Will they be forced, upon joining up, to swallow their own
personal views and “toe the party line”?
It makes it more important than ever, because of such
issues, for candidates to individually state their positions now so that voters
know what they support prior to putting them in office.