The curious case of Rohan Chung
The Manchester based entrepreneur, Chess instructor and would be politician sparked much intrigue into his own finances and personal history, With his bold independent campaign the first of which truly garnered national awareness and interest in generations. Many consider Rohan Chung to be a complete joke. I am however of the opinion he was and will prove to be the most important player in the 2020 Jamaica elections.
In my first article I spoke about the Overton window “According to Overton, the window frames the range of policies that a politician can recommend without appearing too extreme to gain or keep public office given the climate of public opinion at that time.” This not only effects the political zeitgeist in terms of the performance expectations of the population but in the types of candidates people will Entertain.
In 2007 Bruce Golding became the first JLP candidate to ascend to the office of the Prime minister in my lifetime. For us as children it seemed surreal, I for one remember vividly (2005) the moment I realized that PJ Patterson was not the permanent leader of the nation. The 2007 election was also the first time I became aware of the possibility of independent candidacy with the report’s of Ras Astor Black and the “Rasta party" sprinkled across what seemed to be a disruption of PNP dominance, with JLP flooding the internet with campaign materials. Now after an international crime scandal and micro war in Kingston we have flip flopped between the first JLP leader in generations to the first female Prime minister and now the first prime minister born after independence. My theory is that these elections and the precipitous drop in voter turnout is the Jamaican people yearning for change only to be saddled with increasing crime and other ills.
The result of which is Jamaica having developed a thriving anti government sentiment particularly since Andrew Holness 2016 win. which was perceived as a changing of the guard for Jamaican politics. That would birth a new era of safety and prosperity after decades of Comrades driving the country into a proverbial gully.
This places Chung at the top of the lightning rod which is Independent Candidacy the effect of this in my opinion will mirror that of satire candidate Vermin Supreme who has famously Ran a presidential campaign in every U.S Presidential election since 1992, His 2012 campaign having been the zenith of his public awareness eclipsing his 2008 campaign (Barack Obama’s first run) Thanks to his opponents drawing more national and international attention than ever, the former which ended in the election of the “ President of the world” Barack Obama according to Brookings writer Michael Fullilove on February 4, 2009.
With his latest campaign in the 2020 election season having been his most serious as he ran as a Libertarian candidate albeit with the satirical slogan “In On The Joke” Increasing the potency of his campaign with his chiding slogan and his adoption of more serious issues such as “ending foreign wars” a far cry from his previous “Free pony for every American” Campaign promise. This robe clad bearded man wearing a boot on his head was a high water mark for anti-establishment sentiment in the states over the past 20+ years and it is this satirical challenge to conventional thought which in my analysis led to the near election of Bernie Sanders and the election of Donald Trump. Both seen by their supporters as anti-establishment candidates with some polls showing a correlation between possible right wing voters potentially switching to support Sanders (left of center democrat) only to return to the Republican candidate Trump after Sanders campaign was foisted.
This I believe is in part due to the popularization of the idea that a candidate can be anti-establishment even if Supremes' campaigns are satire they feed a thirst for reflective representation in the masses and that thirst once introduced to a population will linger in the minds of the voters and increase the possibility that future independent candidates would garner some of the attention given by the media to a clearly doomed candidate as opposed to serious contenders who happen to be independent. This is where Rohan Chung Becomes immensely important, His financially frugal campaign was nothing if not impactful, his face plastered on television at all hours for short periods of silence, preceded a natural chorus of Jamaicans asking “Who is this?” as his picture spread to various social media The attention of the island was captured by this one independent candidate with an election shrouded in much mystery and intrigue that popular culture accepted him as a part of the Jamaican zeitgeist almost instantly. While many social media commentators particularly those affiliated with politicians Blasted Chung for his every action. His moves presented nothing nefarious, In fact his actions could be characterized as a would be patriot testing the checks and balances of the equal opportunity for Jamaicans to represent themselves in government, Which should be guaranteed to us under our constitution and laws. At great personal and financial cost no less.
This article is not intended as an endorsement or defense of Rohan Chung. But I believe his emergence in Jamaican politics will have massive effects in the next general election and beyond. Imagine a 16 year old watching Chungs campaign play out on tiktok and Instagram. These then children, will be voting age adults before the next election having spent the time between being bombarded with years of lockdowns, rising crime rates and crumbling social infrastructure. What will they do when faced with a choice that their parents never had. A united third party.