Politicians vs. Leaders

I do not understand how or why these are so conflated in Jamaica. It is constant: If it’s not some comment about “political leaders”, the “failure of leadership” in reference to the latest scandal or misdeeds of politicians, or agonizing over not being able to identify “new leaders” in the two dominant parties.   It doesn’t matter get said enough: a politician is NOT the same as a leader.

There might be politicians who can champion policies on one’s behalf, but that does not necessarily mean they represent positions that you find palatable.    They are elected to do a job.  Nothing more.  It is the job of politicians to create policies that work for as many people as possible and which help to maintain an optimal standard of living in the society.   When they don’t do their job, they should be kicked out.  They were not crowned or anointed, nor are they entitled to deference simply because they get to call themselves Member of Parliament, Mayor, or what have you.

A leader has to have conviction, vision, a sense of how things ought to be done and a knack for bringing people together to make things happen.  One of those things might be to put some fire under the tails of politicians to get them to do their jobs.  A leader lasts beyond an election cycle because they speak to a broader set of concerns than just how to get elected.

Given that the most that Jamaican politicians ever say is to make promises and cuss out the other party, I can’t see how one could call that leadership.  They are following the agenda of the party; they do not have an autonomous platform, one that is disconnected from party politics.

So, I will say it again.   There are politicians and there are leaders.  Jamaican politicians are just that; at the most, call them elected officials.  But leaders, they most certainly are not.


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