It’s Phase 4, and back to canvassing we go
With the island now moved into Phase 4 of our new norm or alternative norm, people are allowed to gather and visit others.
As such, for all elected Members of Parliament, it is now time to put back on those walking shoes and go visit constituents across the island.
Many of our residents have not left the comforts of their home or neighbourhood in almost three months. So, they tend to be very welcoming of those who come by to check on them, from safe, secure social-distancing, of course.
Concerns and thoughts
This past week we were able to visit a number of our folks in Devonshire.
Most, if not all, stated that they had coped well during the lockdown and had become comfortable staying home to stay safe.
Others expressed grave concerns about the reopening of borders to tourists. They fully understood the economic impacts, however, the health and safety of the general population was of more concern to them.
At one home, a gentleman expressed how the events of the past few months regarding Black Lives Matter, had forced him to look deeper into Bermuda’s segregated history. He had taken the time at home to read several books by local writers that he previously would not have read.
Other visits saw us having to register voters who had recently moved into the area or had never been registered before. This process involves filling out a form from the Parliamentary Registrar and then submitting it back to their office to be verified.
Once all details, such as date of birth and contact information are verified, the vetted applicants are put on the voters list in their respective constituencies. All in all, this takes roughly two weeks or less to complete.
It is important that anyone canvassing should walk with parliamentary registration forms because you never know when you will run into someone who recently moved or turned 18.
I must admit it is a change to be talking to constituents while we all have masks on. Perhaps what is going to be a big miss is being invited to sit down with them inside their kitchens and living rooms to hear their concerns, thoughts and suggestions.
Bermuda-style canvassing is unique in the sense that we do not solely rely on big rallies at open spaces to speak to the masses as in some of our sister islands. We have, over the last five decades crafted the one-on-one bonds between Members of Parliament and their voters.
Such is our culture, that even if someone was not initially planning on voting for a given candidate, many would still invite them in, offer them a cool drink and then proceed to “give them a piece of their mind”.
With Covid-19, those political tongue lashings are now reserved for through the screen door at a distance of six feet or more.
To those that will be visited by persons from either party, we thank you for taking the time to share your sentiments, via screen doors, with us in how we see ourselves through these challenging times.
• Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him on WhatsApp at 599-0901 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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