Lessons from the US electoral process for Jubilee Party

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When we changed the Constitution in 1992 to allow for multi-party democracy, we seemed to have taken this to mean that we can have a party for every individual.

We went on to form numerous parties – currently over 60 – that seem only to be active when elections are with us and lack a clear agenda.

While multi-partyism was supposed to help us entrench ideals of democracy, it appears to have led us into greater divisions where parties are based on mostly tribal or regional bases.

We have lacked parties that are based on ideologies and attract the unity of all Kenyans which has resulted in major divisions in the country.

As I have argued before, the Jubilee Party will not only be the largest party in the country but will also be the party that unites all Kenyans.

We can draw lessons from the United States on the need for large parties that have helped entrench democracy and unity among the Americans.

Over the last weeks, the world has been watching with great interest as the main parties – The Democrats and The Republicans – in the US carried out their nomination processes.

There are many lessons especially from the Democrats which Kenyans and especially those in the Jubilee Party can learn to enhance the party’s standing.

To start with, the Democrats demonstrated that there can be fierce internal competition within a political party but this should not lead to the breaking up of the party.

We witnessed fiercely fought primaries between Senator Bernie Sanders and Secretary Hillary Clinton over the last couple of months.
And last week at the Democratic National Convention, and despite his supporters staging peaceful demonstrations, Senator Sanders conceded that he had lost the party nomination.

But he did not stop here, his belief in his party’s ideals led him to make a strong pitch for Secretary Clinton urging his supporters to ensure that she wins the Presidency.

Sanders knows that the only way for his party to beat the Republicans at the November election, is for all its supporters to remain united and support Clinton’s bid.

This is a great lesson for the Jubilee Party which is already faced with some internal discontent murmurs even before it is officially launched.

These conflicting arguments should not alarm Jubilee supporters but should be seen as signs of a vibrant democratic party.

As long as we witness free and fair primaries, I am sure that Jubilee Party will overcome the murmurs and eventually win as many seats as possible to control Parliament and the County Assemblies across the country.

Another lesson for Jubilee from the Democratic National Convention is the issue of embracing everyone despite their background or ethnic orientation. At the convention, there was space for everyone whether Caucasian, African American, Hispanic or any other race.

Even more importantly, there was space for women and the youth who participated actively in the nomination process and had their voice heard on all issues. A lot of politicians, including in Kenya, have neglected this group which makes the majority of the population.

The Democrats have a student wing, a youth wing, a women’s wing, an overseas wing and various caucuses that deal with special interest groups such as veterans and persons with disabilities. This inclusivity helps everyone feel and own the party.

The Democrats also demonstrated another key lesson for the Jubilee Party during their convention – smooth transition and succession.
The Jubilee Party will be where the US Democrats are in 2022 even though the focus for now must be winning the 2017 elections in a convincing manner.

As President Obama did, Uhuru must ensure that he leaves his supporters with no doubt that Ruto will be the ideal Jubilee Party presidential candidate in 2022. He must rally all Jubilee Party supporters behind Ruto as must all other veteran Jubilee politicians who may be retiring at the time.

(The writer is a political and communications consultant. Twitter @MachelWaikenda)

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