Acknowledge the error
March 15, 2012
For two consecutive weeks of the Gary Moreno ‘Let’s Talk’ television debate, we have had persons in important positions expressing erroneous and utterly misleading statements. First it was Chris Furbert of the Bermuda Industrial Union, now it is Walton Brown, a recently appointed political candidate and well-known professor and lecturer of political science. In our debate he challenged me to offer up what I deemed as needed political reform. I offered one example, which was that of extending the primary candidate selection process beyond the current party members only, which aside from having to pass through a small selection committee, has recorded candidates being selected with only 20 votes and less through primaries involving just handfuls of branch members.
I have proposed that there be reform to the Electoral Act which will mandate primaries in every constituency six to nine months prior to a fixed-term general election. These primaries will be conducted at government regulated polling stations where individuals will cast their vote to decide who will emerge as candidates for either party and provide a threshold for independents. Walton countered my suggestion arguing with a question of where is there any precedent in the world. I answered the USA, to which his response was that in the USA you had to be a party member to participate in any primary. He went further to state that involving the entire constituency was an election and not a primary. He was then supported by Christian Dunleavy the other panellist.
I said they were wrong, however since there was prior dialogue about entering facts rather than opinion, I did not argue because I only knew of the USA primaries from anecdotal evidence offered through discussions over the years with friends and relatives living and participating in USA primaries. I can say that Walton is clearly wrong as a matter of fact. The American system has what is termed as an “open primary election” run by the state or local governments that does not return the participants to an elected post, but rather determines from them who will represent either party and also those who cross the threshold set for independents. No party membership is required and the voters can only cast one vote which will go towards only one of the nominees. There is another system used also in some states that does require membership which perhaps to which Walton is referring, but that is called a “Caucus” and not a primary election.
I have argued that it would be very easy in our small jurisdiction to engage the entire electorate in the first choice in the selection process for party representation. The process will strengthen the system by allowing everyone the right to stand and seek ratification to become a party representative directly from the constituents rather than a six or eight person selection committee. My position is 101 of grass root democracy, it hits at the heart of the right of all the members of the electorate to participate by either standing as a representative of the party of choice or to select an individual as a representative. What was Walton studying as political science? If he has not picked up the thrust which was the background to the American Revolution that lays the philosophy of human rights and political participation, what was he studying? Why is he not at the forefront of political rights and representation? What was he teaching our children? He as a professor and with a Doctorate who is called upon to give a professional opinion, stood on public TV defending an antiquated undemocratic system which has failed our country by alienating the majority from real participation. He needs to come back to the public and acknowledge his error that he expressed on the Gary Moreno show. I have since ascertained the constitutional facts of the American system. I was correct in my comments on the show and will stand on top of Mount Everest to proclaim, but more important is that the Bermuda people need to demand a right to have real participation and rid ourselves of the cosmetics that we currently exercise.
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