The two-party system in Cayman started over a decade ago and today there is still considerable debate as to its necessity. Many of us remember the “good old days” when we simply had elected officials lumped into the overall Executive Council. However, it was impossible to expect that Cayman politics was going to stay that way. We may reminisce about our innocent youth, but we are never going to get it back. The two-party system is here to stay.
The reason the two-party system exists in human affairs seems to stem from human nature itself. In whatever social-political arena we examine, the people in them fall into two broad categories. For sake of simplicity we call them “liberal” and “conservative.” Everywhere we look in the broad spectrum of humanity, people are divided into these two categories. Everyone we know is either a conservative or a liberal. In actual fact, this seems to be decided at a very early age in our life. It is difficult, if not impossible, to change one’s mind-set. You are either left, or right. You are either liberal, or conservative.
For example, in Cayman, we have UDP (liberals) and PPM (conservatives). American politics is also divided between liberals (Democrats) and conservatives (Republicans.) Despite the monarchy, English politics is also divided between political parties that are clearly liberal and conservative. In the US, news agencies (despite their claims of “objectivity”) are divided between liberal and conservative: CNN is liberal, and Fox is conservative. This is clear as day. In Cayman, radio stations (as evidenced by their talk-shows) are also divided between liberal and conservative. Even in our immediate families, we see this divide. No matter where we look in the world, the divide between liberal and conservative exists.
Of course there is the minority “independent” viewpoint. There are some people who do not like to be categorized and will say, “I am liberal when it comes to social issues, but fiscally, I am conservative.” Be that as it may, this “independent” person can nevertheless be categorized as a liberal or conservative. And usually, it’s how you view things socially and /or how you vote. We can hide from labels all we want, but the truth is you can be categorized. You are either on the “left” or on the “right.”
Now why exactly is the two-party system inherent in human nature, and what are its benefits? There seems to be a simple answer. Generally speaking, liberal minded people are concerned more with the future, progress. Conservatives are usually concerned more with the past, tradition. (I said “generally speaking.”) A balance is needed between these two viewpoints. If all one did was focus on the future, without sufficient attention to the past, there would be danger of cutting oneself off from continuity. A tree without roots becomes unplanted very quickly. On the other hand, the danger of focusing on the past, without sufficient attention to the future, is that it would stunt growth. What good are the roots of a tree that bear no fruit? The future must be balanced by the past, and the past must be balanced by the future. In other words, liberals and conservatives both need each other.Both parties are necessary for the advancement of society.
We learn this concept of balance in debate class where two opposing viewpoints are formed to argue a topic. One side argues in favour of one perspective, and the other side argues in favour of the opposite. The reason this is done is so that a higher understanding of the topic can be achieved. If everyone believed the same thing, how would we advance in knowledge? It takes opposite viewpoints to advance human knowledge and society. This is called “dialectic.” It’s what we mean when we say “looking at both sides of the coin” or “putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.” And so there is no such thing as one viewpoint being more correct than the other. If you subscribe to the UDP, this does not mean that the PPM is wrong. And if you subscribe to the PPM, this does not mean that the UDP is wrong.
And so it is useless to call for the de-establishment of the two-party system. What is really important is to establish a proper playing field so that both parties can properly expound their viewpoint with the necessary counter-balance. We must realize that members of the opposition are integral to the advancement of Cayman’s society. People with different political viewpoints from you deserve your respect. It is very likely that you can, and will, learn something from a viewpoint you do not subscribe to.
As always, there is religious confirmation of this. In Israel 2000 years ago, the Pharisees were liberals and Sadducees conservatives. The Pharisees were not as ascetic as their Sadducee counterparts. Jesus’ apostles were also divided between liberal and conservative. St Paul and St Peter fought bitterly about their opposite viewpoints. When Christianity began to spread to the Gentile world, St Peter (the conservative) did not want to do away with Jewish customs. St Paul (the liberal) said that those traditions were no longer necessary (Galatians 2: 11 – 14.) Jesus Himself chose both liberals and conservatives to spread His Church. Surely this confirms for us the necessity of having two parties in Cayman. Christ, in whom all things converge, is both conservative and liberal, which is why He could break the law if He wanted (Mark 2: 23 – 28), while at the same time recommend his followers to adhere to it (Matthew 23: 2 – 3).
I am not in the LA on a day-to-day basis, so I cannot say for sure, but from the outside it often seems that the two parties lack respect for each other, and for the most part seem intent on destroying one another’s personalities. This shows a lack of respect and understanding of the raison d’être of the two party system. From such derisive division, how can we expect unity in the Cayman Islands? There must be acceptance and open communication between both sides. Recognize that both parties are necessary for the advancement of the Cayman Islands. St Peter and St Paul did not share the same views, but they came to an agreement because they had the same common goal: Christ. In the same way, PPM and UDP do not have to share the same views, but they must come to agreements from time to time for sake of their common goal: Cayman.