It's fun to compare politics in Belize with politics in other places. Especially those places that are successful and relatively more advanced in democracy.
Term limits and staggering those term limits in Belize has been a subject discussed for about 15 years in Belize; with a notable frosty silence from the many two major Belizean political party politicians. They don't want to hear it! Not even a little bit about it! Irregardless, of whether it would help make a smoother rising development growth curve for the nation of Belize.
Amidst howls of protest, cries of dismay, Florida voters, voted in term limits, capping the lifetime careers of professional politicians. Nearly half the State House, some 53 members and a quarter of the Senators (11 of 40) face their own death knell with the term limit law that comes in next year 2000 in Florida State Government.
The people of Florida have spoken! It's a time for new ideas! Mandatory retirement is in order for a bunch of lifetime career mafioso style politicians. The cries of political protest come loud and clear. Just like in Belize, the old tired worn out phrases, justifications, rationalizations have been trotted out over the years. The fact of the matter is; studies show that staggered term limits are more effective in a modern growth society in this technological age, than lifetime career politicians. What happens; is that a bunch of dunderheads in Florida, incompetents in business, found that they had a knack for backstabbing, mudslinging, sly innuendos, that succeeds very well in party backroom politics. With this success in backroom political party double dealing, the rewards were political office. A real cushy job, that could be extended for a lifetime career, in one office or another, or some government appointment to a paid Board when you didn't get elected. No boss to report to! No accountability, or very little! Great Pay! Perks galore! Chances to siphon off grants and funds because you had the inside influence, with phoney contracts and special setup minority businesses to get more cash out of the treasury. Developer and business graft, under the table deals, free holidays. You name it! If GREED and SELF INTEREST could find a way to diddle the State of Florida and the taxpayer it could and would be done.
I even know a few of these political characters and shining examples of public service is definitely not the first thing in their mind. Basically, they lack the ability to make a living in the real world. A lot of them are excellent speakers (con men), or lawyers who cannot compete for clients in the law field. Double speak! Rhetoric! Warm empty phrases are the stock in trade! Behind the facade is a sneaky treacherous mind, always figuring how to screw and backstab the competition. Whether it be in the same political party, a complaining citizen on the street, or the political party competition.
The new Florida Constitutional Amendment prohibits incumbents from appearing on the ballot for an office they have served two terms before. Now there is a big scrabble for alternative political positions. Outsiders, fresh faces are going to be competing for a lot of political positions. The guys that had it locked in, are running scared. How will they earn a living, if they have to work on their own initiative?
Belize faces a similar situation. We also inherited the career lifetime political party politician. But if we were really interested in a developing Belize with a smoother rising growth curve, we would have to switch to staggering portions of our political representatives. We would have to shorten the time limits for holding office from five years to two years. We would have to deny party hacks from locking up the process in a continuous charade of a lifetime career, by only allowing them to serve no more than two terms. Then back to the real world of business and jobs for them.
Studies of political effects on democracy, growth and development show that this is the most successful way to date. Fresh faces, a rotating percentage of groups in the Senate and Elected Representatives; to control the formation of mafia cliques like we have from the port Belize City intelligentisa controlling the nation and treasury for their own benefit.
Read Report #86 ( I think that is the number!) on the Belize Electronic Library, Development Issues for some ideas along this line. All that is stopping such better ways of doing things are the UDP and the PUP gangs of port town intelligentsia cliques.
Florida government is in for a change! When will Belize also change? The charade of the Political Reform Committee has given the PUP a year and a quarter delayed in their current five year term. What will be the next set of excuses to delay REAL political reform? Be interesting to see, how the party hacks protect their positions and privileges. That REFERENDUM ACT was a real eye opening look at "real politik" privilege in Belize. The arrogant, sneaky lying misrepresentations made with it; a forecast of what will come after the Political Reform Committee presents it's conclusions? THEN WE WILL SEE, what rationalizations, excuses, postponments, will come, to protect our bunch of LIFETIME CAREER POLITICIANS. An interesting game to watch, if it wasn't so serious for the development of the nation of Belize.
Humans are imperfect, but individual liberty and diversity of opinion need to be protected from authoritarian political coercion by doctrinaires. Being an elected politician does not ennoble or elevate individuals to superiority, or intellect. Protection of Belizean democracy from lifetime career political party politicians is part of any equation for future success of Belizean democracy. Rules that restrain politicians are as important to democratic success, as any other approach to development and happiness of the taxpayers.