Published On: Thu, Aug 4th, 2022

Evaluating politicians: “Everyone is selfish”

PHILIPSBURG — The boys and girls at Teen Times are having a lot of fun with their annual evaluation of local politicians. They do their homework on this topic, and they don’t mince their words either. For the electorate, their findings come across as a breath of fresh air.

Click here to review their 2022 grading of MPs and Ministers>>>

Evaluating politicians is tricky business, as we learned from several position papers posted on the website of Lawrence Talks! This is an interdisciplinary media platform for the community of the town of Lawrence in the state of Kansas.

Why is it tricky? Politics is not like sports, where it is possible to declare a winner in a basketball match or in any track and field discipline. If you run faster than others, you are a winner. That is not how it works in politics because there is no objective standard.

Matthew Herbert, a Lawrence city commissioner puts it like this: “In politics, perception is reality. The will of the people is just that; what they will to be, so it is.”

Herbert notes that the success or failure of a commissioner depends largely on how resources are allocated. He refers to a remark from US President Joe Biden: “Don’t tell me your priorities. Show me your budget and I will tell you what your priorities are.”

Shola Aromona, who studies for a doctorate in journalism and mass communication at the University of Kansas, notes that “everyone is selfish.” Politicians “present their best selves during an election campaign but they use the media for image laundering or as a tool to suppress opposition and criticism after an election.”

Aromona wondered why politicians do this “and why voters continue to make decisions that do not serve the public good in the long term. Her conclusion: “Everyone – politicians and voters – is selfish. We are all subjective in the use of the tools available to us.”

The assertive writers at Teen Times use a different approach to evaluate the fifteen members of St. Maarten’s Parliament, but they are mostly on the mark because they go beyond party politics and assess what parliamentarians have actually done.

MP Hyacinth Richardson gets the worst report card from Teen Times: a zero. Comment: “Speaking of unproductive and a waste of money. Ladies and gentlemen, Exhibit A.”

On a scale from 1 to 10 (whereby 10 is the best) quite some other MPs get a low approval rating as well: Chanel Brownbill and Akeem Arrindell (0), George Pantophlet and Sidharth Bijlani (1) and William Marlin (2).

The highest scores are for MPs Raeyhon Peterson and Melissa Gumbs (Party for Progress) and for Sarah Wescot-Williams (United Democrats). All three get an 8 from Teen Times. Other well-scoring MPs are Solange Duncan (7), Angelique Roumou and Christophe Emmanuel (7).

In the middle of the pack, with a bleak 5 are parliament-chair Grisha Heyliger-Marten and MPs Rolando Brison and Ludmilla de Weever.

Teen times also gave a report card to members of the Council of Ministers. Top is Omar Ottley (9), followed by Anna Richardson (7). More moderate scores are for ministers Samuel (5), Jacobs and Doran (4). The lowest score, a 3, is for Finance Minister Ardwell Irion. We guess it is time for us to highlight the unrecognized good work the Minister of Finance has been doing behind the scenes improving the country’s finances.

In the meantime, read Doing business in St. Maarten: bottlenecks and solutions., which highlights the challenges the incoming new minister of TEATT will be facing based on a report titled “Spurring Entrepreneurship in Sint Maarten”, that apparently the Finance Minister Ardwell Irion also contributed to.

Minister of TEATT Roger Lawrence, who was not graded by Teen Times due to his short time in office and subsequent illness, submitted his resignation last week, which was confirmed by Prime Minister Jacobs.

See related story: Prime Minister Jacobs announces TEATT Minister resignation.