Support for independent voters
“A wise man makes his own decisions; an ignorant man follows public opinion.” — Chinese proverb
From time to time, I have conversations with members of the public, who express their voter disillusionment and discontent.
They express to me that they cannot see themselves voting for the party that they have traditionally supported, but they cannot see themselves voting for “that other party”, either.
They eventually reveal that they will decide not to vote at all or to surrender and vote for “their party”, despite how they feel.
It is indeed a fact that everyone is free to vote as they choose. Our Constitution provides that right and it is the hallmark of democracy.
However, the question must be asked: is unwavering party loyalty good for Bermuda?
In our country, there are party loyalists on either side. In their mind, they know what each party represents, so they are firm in their support, for or against it.
Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that party loyalists are people who will vote for their party no matter what national good or damage that the party does.
The party loyalist votes for their party for political dominance and supremacy, rather than for what voting should be about — which is to advance the interest of the nation and the betterment of its people today and in the future.
As we are all aware, there are constituencies in Bermuda where, figuratively speaking, the most astute candidate representing a party can run against a dead horse of the favoured party and the dead horse will win every time.
These constituencies are called safe seats.
You will recall that there are also upsets in these safe seats from time to time.
We all remember the sensational victories of Glen Smith defeating Paula Cox, then the Premier, in the 2012 election and Christopher Famous defeating finance minister Bob Richards in 2017.
These upsets in safe seats are rare, but they represent what is valuable about democracy.
It is our understanding that political party’s represent different things to different people. Some voters approve of a political party that stands up for national challenges.
Others see a party that represents their values or their position in society.
There are others that readily admit that they vote for a political party because that’s the party that their grandparents and parents support.
This has presumably earned that party a lifetime of devotion and loyalty.
Ironically, this is all the more reason to question unwavering party loyalty. Political parties and politicians must be held to account by the voters.
The voter loses their power if their vote is guaranteed no matter what harm is done to them or to the country.
To relinquish that power is to give up the right for democracy to work for you.
Our country will improve when our politics improves, and the only incentive to improve it is to hold our politicians to account and to demand that improvement.
Our country would be much better off if our politicians did not enjoy the complacency of their safe seat and the loyalty of the electorate.
Our society would improve if we demand politicians and their party compete to provide their vision, plans and solutions for the challenges we face.
Our nation will progress when we observe the track records of our politicians and their party to determine if that record is in our national interest.
Thankfully, Bermuda has not veered into the dark side of “party first” where there is suppression of free speech or overt intimidation of political rivals.
There is much to be proud of with our democracy, in spite of our track record of flirting with divisiveness and stoking emotional and racial fires to win votes.
However, we should not become complacent as a nation. We must continue to focus on the challenges and demand that our politicians provide solutions to improve our society.
The unwavering commitment to a party no matter what they negatively do or say is a recipe for national disaster.
We must remain awake to determine if policies and legislation are improving our country.
Voters must become more vigilant about what was the politician and their party’s rhetoric before and after, an election.
Discerning voters must ask themselves: are they living up to their pre-election pledge?
This is why we should support independent voters because they are the most crucial power to our political culture and development.
It is something we should all strive towards cultivating. It would end our blind party loyalty, irresponsible governance, economic decline, broken promises, voter remorse and political disillusionment.
When we continue to vote for one party, no matter what, it weakens us as a nation and that is gross disregard for our society.
It runs contrary to providing Bermudians the best opportunities to move towards a better country now and for the next generation.
• Vic Ball was a One Bermuda Alliance senator from November 2014 to July 2017
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