The Intent of the Law
What happens if the PNP is successful in its attempts to have 2 elected candidates disqualified because they are U.S. citizens? What if they are able to find 3 more candidates to disqualify because they did not declare a financial interest they had with the government of Jamaica?
What if it were to be successful in this way and were then able to form a majority in parliament, forcing Prime Minister Golding to resign?
Is this what the PNP really wants? As they say, be careful of what you ask for, because you might get it. They would be the first party to gain office in Jamaica through the courts, rather than through the ballot box.
It is obvious to them, and to all Jamaicans who are fair-minded, that the will of the people is that the JLP form the next government. Only the most die-hard PNP supporters would deny that this is the case. Even when the party made clear threats to challenge JLP candidates that they alleged to be US citizens, it made no difference to the vote. Each of the accused won by over a thousand votes.
Clearly the people have spoken.
Does the PNP, the party of Norman Washington Manley, really want to gain power in Jamaica in defiance of the people's wishes? Does it really want to enter the next election being famous for wanting to gain power, while overriding the people's voice?
Once the legal can of worms is fully opened, would it then make sense for the JLP to challenge as many successful PNP candidates as it can with disqualification by one means or another, in order to try to retain a
majority? Should they also go hunting for passports, declarations and the like?
What is not being talked about in all this is the obvious fact that the intent of the law, written into the Constitution in 1962, is not being violated.
If it is true that the JLP and PNP candidates who have (or had) US citizenship are indeed the beneficiaries of what most Jamaicans will agree is good fortune, then it is to their benefit and to their credit that they choose to even live in Jamaica, let alone run for office. After all, they could be living in Flatbush, Scarborough,
Pembroke Pines or Tottenham, safe from crime, violence and presumably with greater creature comforts.
But as they say, no good deed goes unpunished.
The truth is that the law was written to prevent split commitments. No-one dare argue that these Jamaicans don't care deeply about their country. Their very presence here speaks volumes about their commitment. We are in absolutely no danger of them choosing to favour the US people over the Jamaican people in a crunch. They have already chosen.
The bitter feelings in the U.S. over the Bush vs. Gore election debacle show us what happens when the courts are used as a place to make decisions.
Is this what Jamaica wants?
This is not to say that the law shouldn't be changed, or that the candidates should not revoke their US citizenships, if they exist. It doesn't say that Prime Minister Golding should not demand that the JLP come clean, and admit that a major error was made.
It does say that he shouldn't use the glacial nature of the our court system, multiple appeals at all levels, and a bevy of lawyers and legal tricks to delay the inevitable, and to stay in power.
It does say that the PNP, and Jamaica should all be careful about the course of action we are taking.
The situation, which should not be ignored by Prime Minister Golding, cries out for a peaceful and amicable solution. The government and opposition can both act like a bunch of scamps trying to hold on to power in whatever way they can, or it can impress us all with a statesman-like solution, by putting country over party.