The Haitian Tea Party Movement

If ever there was room for a tea party movement, it’s in Haiti.  America is currently in the midst of political transition as a result of the mid-mandate elections, the outcomes of which have been largely fueled by the Tea Party movement.  Despite one’s individual definitions of the movement, members bill themselves as Americans frustrated by the inability of the government to get things right.  As a result, they’ve coalesced into a groundswell of momentum in order to bring sweeping political change and thus, as one would imagine to be the endgame, fundamentally change America’s political infrastructure for the better.

As is often the case, Haiti can be used to place things in perspective.  More precisely, Haiti’s sociopolitical landscape provides a remarkable backdrop for one to analyze the Tea Party movement in America.

During my recent trip to Cap Haitien, a frustrated resident pointed out numerous and exact shortcomings of the Haitian government.  These were not politically philosophical woes of big government vs. capitalism. Rather, he pointed to the very real lack of infrastructure and the inability of the government to promote a strong tourism economy, which, in turn, weighs a heavy load on the residents of Cap Haitien who thrived on guiding tourists up the mountain to the Citadel in the 1970s.  He remained disillusioned with the government, despite the upcoming elections, unconvinced that an election would bring about the change necessary to put the economy on the right track.

Does that last part sound familiar? America’s tea party movement boasts the same complaint, that the current political landscape will not bring forward the change needed to solve the country’s woes and thus, drastic political reform is necessary.  At the same time, one can’t help but notice the overarching irony.  Haiti, while beset with a true political conundrum that might best be solved by a mass political movement of the disaffected masses lacks such a crusade.

Haiti can benefit from a tea party movement.  Every main thoroughfare in Haiti is plastered with political flyers, as if advertising a much anticipated Jay-Z concert, but no one is willing to buy tickets.  At the same time, I would be skeptical to buy tickets as well if the headliner had been either a disappointment or a no-show, or if he had to perform without a stage, or was ushered off stage mid-performance, or a variety of other factors that would impair the concert.  Maybe Haitians are too disaffected to go to another concert.  This is the benefit we have in America.  The concert has been so good, we squabble over what kind of lighting is used during the performance.  Must be nice.

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One Response to The Haitian Tea Party Movement

  1. Michelle says:

    Well, of course it must be nice. This (U.S.) is the land of the free, spoiled, and wasteful. I personally am tired of Americans launching the same complaints and having the same debates about the same topics and packaging it differently during each presidential term. This year, it’s “tea party”. Next year, it will be something else. But the issues never change. Not only are such debates a frightening reflection of how myopically many Americans are thinking about themselves, their communities, and their leaders- they are downright boring and ridiculous, particularly in light of how catastrophic life can sometimes be in “developing” countries like Haiti.

    What does intrigue me about the intricacies of Haitian politics are some of the references you’ve made above. For example, how significant is rebuilding the Haitian tourism sector to the livelihood of the average Cap Haitien resident? Which Haitians would benefit from such an investment and why? Beyond the community that you visited, what are some of the other “needs” that residents feel are not adequately addressed by the government and why? As someone who has never been to Haiti, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this, especially in light of the natural disasters that have left unforgettable scars in terms of both Haiti’s landscape and the lives of thousands.

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