The #ArticulateMinority: alive and kicking. Ignore us at your peril.

He dismissed them as the #articulateminority. He said the “average Jamaican” wasn’t interested in the things that seemed to consume those Jamaicans who agitated from the relative comfort of their keyboards and touchpads. He sought to divide us into middle class, educated keyboard warriors versus the masses that accepted t-shirts, curry goat and hot Guinness. He sought to dismiss us. That FORMER minister of government betrayed his ignorance of a changing world and lived to eat his words on Thursday February 25 2016.

On Thursday February 25 2016, the lowest voter turnout in Jamaican history booted the PNP from government. There was a 3 week period of campaigning, a period where we the electorate were denied the opportunity to hear and interrogate (albeit through our surrogates, the journalists) the plans of those seeking to serve through leadership. A 3 week period of campaigning that saw the ruling party offer up every excuse in the book NOT to debate: “How did he get that big house?” ” He called me a con-artist” I kid you not. Issues of national import, like waste management, environmental conservation, primary and early childhood education, security and health care took a back seat. Sigh.

The usual trappings of mass rallies, on-stage antics, hot, empty rhetoric all to the background music of those god-awful vuvuzelas were never in short supply. According to the pollsters, it was going to be a close race.

Righteous indignation raged on Twitter and on Facebook. “How dare they…” was the common sentiment echoed in cyberspace. I observed Comrades and members of the Showa posse arguing their points of view with vigour during this 3 week period. I saw fence sitters literally make up their minds up to the night before election day. I saw the pictures of purple inked fingers on election day. And I KNEW that the so called #articulateminority could no longer be dismissed. It appeared to me that they…WE…were shaping opinions, were framing the dialogue and we were determining what was important. The Articulate Minority was angry. We were angry at what was being dished up to us. We wanted to plumb issues that were important to us. We believed that our leaders were answerable to us (gasp!) We wanted to see our leaders and would be leaders defend their positions and answer for actions past. And when we were denied, we weren’t happy. At all.

I am eagerly anticipating the elector analysis that will be published in a few weeks as promised by the Electoral Office of Jamaica. I could be wrong, but I think that the record low voter turn out would have been worse had it not been for the youth vote and the #articulateminority. I think that naturally larger base of PNP supporters, unable to vote for the PNP in the face of their display of arrogance, opted to stay home, as they would rather die than vote for the JLP. My assumptions only. We’ll see once the data is published.

The defeat of the PNP in this particular election signals a change that will forever shift the paradigm that defines politicking in Jamaica. And it’s for the better methinks. It is a little harder to bamboozle the electorate, Guys. We have information. We spread information. WE determine what is important. WE tell you what we want to discuss. IGNORE US AT YOUR PERIL!

My own 20 year old daughter voted for the first time, and so did many of her friends. I scrolled her Twitter timeline with keen interest and many “Ohhhhhhs” realising that our very own millennials had strong views about the PNP, JLP and voting.

This government was too arrogant to get my vote. Dem essentially screw di country…and pat demself pon di back fi it…”

I’m uncomfortable with the moniker “Articulate Minority”. I feel as if it reduces us to a temporary, insignificant, curious looking and sounding bunch. It has served as a rallying cry. A few of us gathered to protest during the Outameni Scandal, the genesis of our Christening by the Honourable Former Minister. I recoil every time someone sums us up as such. I much rather prefer #JamaicaTwitter or the more succinct #Twitta.

The #ArticulateMinority is birthed.

Let me be honest: I’m scared about the JLP tax plan. I stand to take home less money per month than I currently do if they implement the plan in its current iteration per the 10 Point Plan. But I’m also scared about the PNP’s continued emphasis on fiscal austerity to the exclusion of growth…won’t everything grind to a halt if all that is done is to extract more and more taxes? And where will that leave us? Passing successive IMF tests allows us to 1) assure the IMF that we’ll be able to repay them and 2) qualify for more loans. I want more than that. I want to flourish.

The morning after the Election, my almost 13yr old son who had stayed up until the end to see who was declared winner (Sure you can stay up, Son…this is history! It happens every 4 years…you can sleep on Friday night) responded to my fears about the JLP plan and my concern about economic growth: “Mummy: if the JLP gets Governance right, and reduces political corruption, then we’ll have growth. Nothing is more important than good governance.”

You hear that, Andrew Holness and the JLP and our Opposition PNP? Nothing is more important than good governance. We’re here to stay. You can’t take our voice. Listen up.

2 thoughts on “The #ArticulateMinority: alive and kicking. Ignore us at your peril.”

  1. My view is a bit different and, as a business communicator, I am extremely interested in the electoral office report on demographics. I support your view that that the social media discussion shaped the political messaging of the JLP in the last two weeks. I did not see it at all in the PNP, they stayed on their original messages and did not show flexibility. Based on who I saw lining up to vote on TV or at the two polling stations that I visited, I did not see evidence of a tipping point of youth voters. I am looking forward to political scientists analyzing this and suggesting ways to increase participation. Perhaps one way is to have matters that people want to feel connected to put on the ballots. Let's vote for five different issues at a General Election instead of one. This leads me to a comment on the Articulate Minority. When I first heard it, I interpreted it as "residents of Jamaicans who can read and write." When this group moniker is no longer relevant, we can have multi-issue ballots, and I think that will go some way to increased participation by voters in civic matters. Maybe we can have a national teen vote on some issues as well! Sorry for the long post. l8r.

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