Much of the United States of America, and the rest of the world, woke up this morning with a presidential election-induced hangover, caused by sadness or celebration, depending on the performance of their favored candidate.
But the winner of Tuesday’s U.S. general election is not the focus of this editorial. Indeed, we write without regard to the outcome of the White House race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump (… actually, in absolute ignorance of the results, as our deadline closed long before the American polls).
Our timing is intentional. After all, the Cayman Islands, despite our geographic proximity to the U.S. and our “trappings of affluence and American lifestyle” (in the words of former Governor Alan J. Scott), are a British Overseas Territory, with our own parliament of locally elected lawmakers.
At this point, it’s anyone’s guess what impact the next American president may have on Cayman, be it Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Trump; regardless, what is of far greater importance to us is who will be the next Caymanian premier. And so, let us rub our eyes, shift our collective gaze away from the fading glitz and gloss of the U.S. White House campaign, and instead focus on the upcoming elections to Cayman’s Legislative Assembly.
Our local political contests are very different from the American entertainment spectacle that has been playing out on cable television for the past year.
Similar to the U.S., however, Cayman holds elections only once every four years — but that’s where the most obvious similarities end. We have no interminable primaries, no caucuses, no staggering number of local, state and federal contests.
When Caymanian voters go to the polls, it will be their only formal opportunity to affect policy and politicians for another four years. Whomever we elect into leadership — the Progressives, Cayman Democratic Party, a third party or independents — that’s who will be making the decisions on our country’s behalf until the next election.
Yes, in the meantime, we the citizenry can make our voices heard in the pages of this newspaper, on talk radio, during town halls or perhaps through a referendum or two, but we cannot micromanage our officials, and in terms of dictating the course of Cayman government, there is no substitute for our quadrennial general election.
Another hallmark of Cayman elections is the closeness of our territory, meaning we are on nearly intimate terms with our political candidates. “So many of us know so many of them” — through school, work, social gatherings or grocery store checkout lines. Many of us know their secrets, their stories and their pasts. In a community as small as Cayman, many of our candidates are our family, our friends … or other.
However, while there is no “information deficit” in regard to political candidates, this election does have plenty of “unknowns.” This election is a particularly exciting one for Cayman because of the implementation of “one man, one vote” and single-member districts … comprising a mere 1,000 voters apiece (less in the Sister Islands and the eastern half of Grand Cayman).
If anyone tells you they can predict voting patterns for next year’s elections, with 19 distinct mini-districts at stake, they’re either delusional or misinformed.
Here at the Compass, the only thing we’re trying to peddle is, well, information. And in the newspaper business, credibility is our most important attribute. As always, our news pages will remain neutral and objective, and our opinion pages will contain well-researched and strongly articulated viewpoints on matters we believe are important to our readers and our country.
Overall, our coverage of the elections will be balanced, robust and focused on issues — not personalities.