The illusion of democracy
I have discovered over the years that one of the biggest challenges of my life was trying to define who or what I am. There was a time when I was defined as a British subject, since which that definition has now changed to British Overseas Territories Citizen.
I stand to be corrected, but I was made to understand that my so-called state of statutory affairs was not decided by anyone that I had elected, but by some guy sitting in a parliament 3,000 miles away in London, England.
In a place where I was made to understand that I don't have the democratic right to elect a candidate. The more I assess the state of my condition, the more I get the feeling that, in fact, I'm stateless at the pleasure of others who we may never get to know.
Mr Editor, the more I look around my physical surroundings, I feel that I'm living in a box that has a label on it — that's just simply defining our hollow dimension as Bermuda, whatever that is supposed to mean.
The icy-cold fact of the matter, Mr Editor, is that we are nothing more than a foot stool for a colonial master. I sometimes wonder, when I go to the polls to vote, what value my vote is and if the House of Assembly to which I have elected my MP is in fact nothing more than an empty, powerless illusion that panders to our colonial masters.
As times went by, I learnt even more about our state of political affairs. The notion hit me that it's just impossible for a colony to be a democracy. Why, Mr Editor? Because the Governor on the Hill who represents the colonial master, or the Crown that is situated some 3,000 miles away, has the power to reject or hold to ransom any piece of legislation passed in our House of Assembly, if or when he sees it fit to do so.
I sometimes think that we as a people, in too many ways, are somewhat confused. The reasons for that just constantly keep showing up in our thinking; we go about draping ourselves in the word “national” when we know we have not as yet obtained independence; we call ourselves citizens of Bermuda when we don't have the right or the political authority to define ourselves; the House of Commons in London, a parliament in which we don't have an elected member, has the power and authority to suspend our Constitution, which, by the way, does not even belong to us anyway; they can also make null and void our so-called elected House of Assembly against our will.
As a matter of fact, they can take over Bermuda and suspend our elections, and run Bermuda from 3,000 miles away over our objections, if need be.
So what makes us think that we are a democracy, Mr Editor? Could you please help me work through that one? And what spins my head even more out of control, Mr Editor, is that some of us feel that is OK for us to belong to Britain.
Mr Editor, for a people to belong to someone else can mean only that those people are simply chattel property. The last time I was made aware of that logic, to belong to someone as property meant you were a slave.
Mr Editor, even though I go to the polls to cast my vote anyhow, it's only based on the belief that one day it would truly mean something and make a difference.
I have made this statement on many occasions over the years to others and I am now going to quote it once again: “Like the rest of the free democratic sovereign nations of the world, it's only through the acquisition of a sovereign constitution and statehood shall we the people be able to lay claim to our legitimate right to citizenship and our birthright to Bermuda. For the facts of the matter are clear that there is absolutely and positively no other way.”
E. McNEIL STOVELL