In a rare appearance on the political speech-making circuit over the weekend, dms company founder Don Seymour urged Caymanian voters to reject the wave of populism sweeping a number of nations and instead seek to unite the small territory on May 24.
Although Mr. Seymour’s statements were made during the Progressives party convention meeting Saturday evening, he did not ask listeners to vote for any specific candidate – including the 15 Progressives members on the Family Life Centre stage behind him.
Rather, the investment funds company executive said voters should decide the general election based on one issue: leadership.
“True leaders unite people,” Mr. Seymour said. “Let’s stop fighting the fake wars based on race, age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status or national origin. A divided country will surely fail.”
Mr. Seymour compared Cayman to “a little catboat floating in the Caribbean Sea.”
“Nobody should do anything crazy that’s going to tip it over or we’re all going to drown,” he said.
“Class warfare is being elevated to dangerous levels in our country and personally I’m disheartened to see how poor people are being exploited and manipulated in our country for political purposes,” Mr. Seymour said. “Some politicians have perfected class warfare … claiming pure hearts and clean hands while purporting to represent the interests of poor people.
“Well I’ll tell you what, poor people work hard to pay their taxes and if these candidates really cared about poor people they would not squander their hard-earned tax dollars on wasteful, fraudulent and abusive government spending. Talk is cheap. Hold these people responsible for their actions.”
Although he did not verbally endorse any candidates, Mr. Seymour did endorse the concept of political organizations and party structures.
“I’m not a partisan, I’m not an ideologue, I have no political aspirations,” he said. “I’ve never been a member of any political party, yet I truly believe that well-functioning political parties are the most effective way to govern a democracy like ours.”
Mr. Seymour was critical of a national debate which, at the moment, in his view, appeared to focus on “political form over substance.” Discussions regarding what political organizations call themselves or how those coalitions should form up is merely theater, he said.
“How well [a party] functions is purely a matter of leadership,” Mr. Seymour said. “You can easily take [leadership] for granted, but I can tell you one thing, you’ll know when it’s not there.”
“The single most important job any government does is to facilitate economic growth,” he continued. “Nothing can be achieved without economic growth. Without economic growth there are … no jobs, no education, no healthcare, no security, no environmental protection, no roads, no community services – nothing.”
“True leaders are those that champion Caymanian businesses. You can’t hate the employer and love the employee. The best thing we can provide for our citizens is a stable job. Leaders are those that support genuine opportunities for our citizens, not handouts.”
Mr. Seymour also said he was glad to see the recent focus in politics and the private sector on education of Caymanians, but told the Progressives faithful that he thought the issue was being driven with the wrong focus.
“Education has become synonymous with getting an academic degree, that’s unfortunate,” he said. “We really need to be focused on lifelong learning.
“Much of what I learned in university is obsolete. When I was in university, I didn’t even have the internet. The university probably owes me a refund on the education they gave me.”
He urged Caymanians to take the opportunity, if given the chance, for a university education, but not to let it stop with the earning of a degree.
“Education is like breathing, you can’t stop or you won’t survive,” he said. “Your success is ultimately up to you, not a university, not an employer, not the government. Nobody owes you anything. Nobody is going to give you anything. You are only entitled to what you earn, nothing more, nothing less.”