By Dickson Igwe, Contributor
The Virgin Islands population mix, demographic, and migration pattern matrix, and how it responds to Julius Caesar’s campaign rhetoric, is the great unmentionable in the room.
OK. Virgin Islands General Election seasons are a volatile, tumultuous, and exciting time for journalists, commentators and pundits. And one strategy in politics is termed: divide and rule.
Divide and rule works. Today, divide and rule is a very subtle game that uses demographics to leverage a general election campaign. OK. This Wannabe met a critical player in Virgin Islands politics last Tuesday morning as he ambled about town. This man is a super campaigner with one of the big two parties.
He stated that the demographics favoured his party. He was certain that was their trump card. This ‘’Idealist’’ responded, that he would never vote based on his personal demographic. Now, this voter is a BVI Citizen and UK born. He is 50 percent Kittitian, Nevisian, Trinidadian, and 50 percent Nigerian.
Based on that demographic the man- actually a friend despite vast political differences- stated that he expected Dickson Igwe to vote in a specific manner that would benefit his party. This Old Boy responded that he always voted on policy and vision: and never tribal instinct. He further told the ‘’political thug’’ that he will be voting on what party offers the best future for his children and grandchildren: ‘period’.
As yours truly ambled away from a tense exchange the ‘political activist’, smiled in a roguish manner: ear to ear. He squinted at lightning speed, and mischievously and further asserted: “Igwe! You too stupid, you na know that you one a we?”
Whatever that meant! Yes! Demographic politics is potent politics. Why? Because demographic politics is tribal politics; it is politics based on them versus us: tribal division. In colonial times, the British were expert at divide and rule. The British kept various ethnic, religious, and racial groups, at each other’s throats, as a potent way to manage “troublesome savages”. Today, Nigeria — an ex British Colony — has inherited that “British Colonial Strategy” with it tumultuous and bloody politics.
Nigeria is the poster boy of demographic politics, with each tribe and population group voting in a uniformed manner, based on bloodline and tribal loyalties. Trump’s Pitchfork Revolution and Brexit are further examples of the politics of demographics. Trump – a rabid opportunist – smelled a political rat.
Trump observed that white working class men were very unhappy with their economic lot brought about by globalized economics, and the wealth and social equalities that globalization has driven. Trump decided that the best strategy would be to put the fear of ‘brown people’ into the hearts and minds of these white folk. Trump’s anti-migrant rhetoric worked dramatically.
Trump was elected President on a minority vote: “the angry white vote”. Today the USA is the most divided developed country in the western hemisphere. But Trump will be a one-term president based on the hatred he has cooked up. Why? Because of cause and effect: America’s brown people, women, and white liberals are more in number than the “angry white working men” used by a billionaire salesman to get into the White House.
On election day, the ‘democratic party base’ — larger than the white Republican base that is shrinking owing to the higher fertility rates of Latinas – is equally angry. It will put pay to Trump’s politics of hate with the USA going moving hard left in spite of a Conservative Supreme Court. In the UK, Brexit was a similar story- albeit unintended at first, when the 2016 Referendum to get out of Europe was won by 52 percent of the UK’s population.
However, a closer look at Brexit revealed major demographic divisions. White working class men were overwhelmingly Brexiters. Minorities preferred Europe as a protection against UK racism.
There were regional differentials in the 2016 vote. Northern working class towns and northern and Midwestern city areas voted Brexit. Scotland and Wales voted to remain. London and specific regions in the southeast voted Remain. And so on and so forth. The paradox of Brexit is that the white working class voters who voted to get out of Europe have the most to lose as economic numbers clearly show today. Demographic politics has not been good for Britain.
Today that demographic differential has created two parallel societies. Brexit may indeed tear the UK apart. In the British Virgin Islands, demographic politics is the 800-pound gorilla in the room. in the upcoming February general elections, politicians who are leveraging demographics as a strategy may believe they are playing a winning hand, just like that ‘thug’ stated when he met this ‘Johnnie Walker’ in Road Town.
And playing one tribe against the other may be a winning hand. However, as another politician stated: divide and rule is a losing strategy for the Virgin Islands community as a whole. A man or woman may become Premier by dividing up the Virgin Islands community into tribes, ethnicities, and races.
In the long run, that type of politics will always backfire. If you do not believe that: take a look north and see what is happening in the UK, US, and Europe. Vote vision, not tribe!
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