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Making the right choice

There is usually serious concern when a political party in any democratic society remains in power for too long. This is not a question of dumping one party for another, simply for the sake of change. Clearly that would be dangerous and misguided. The reason runs much deeper than that.

To start with, in a democracy, Governments are hired and fired by the people, through a voting system, that should provide each individual eligible to cast a ballot with a voice in whether a Government remains or is replaced.

While on the surface, this process has the appearance of a healthy civic exercise, most people know that beneath the surface, many factors come into play as the party in power will go to great lengths to prove progress can only take place if they are allowed to continue in the driver’s seat; a normal posture for most Governments in a democracy.

The task of the Opposition is to convince the populace that without change, real progress will stall, no matter what the Government says. Just as the Government will be tempted to manipulate the tools of government to make things seem better than they are, so the Opposition faces the temptation of making things seem worse. This is where the voter has a key role, because the people in a sense, are really the human resources department for Bermuda in hiring or firing those responsible to lead the country. We should cherish that right.

In dictatorial settings, the people have no avenue for challenging those in power, without fear of imprisonment, torture or even death. That is changing fast, as world communication is such today that dictators can no longer operate outside of the global spotlight. Many have fallen recently with people willing to protest and even sacrifice their lives to taste true freedom for the first time.

This demonstrates the price people are willing to pay in search of democracy, where transparency, justice, and human decency should be key principles for living.

The big question for the Bermudian voter today, will be whether he or she feels confident the Government of the day has adequately conducted the people’s business since gaining office over a decade ago, or whether they have fallen terribly short. The voter is not required to be a political scientist, or an expert at how the country is run.

However with so many jobs lost, and so many families struggling daily in a tough economic climate, along with the country in substantial debt, they have every right to want something more than glowing promises.

Whenever a general election rolls around in Bermuda, because of our racially complex past, the race factor is pushed around in bitter exchanges that usually leave emotional scars that are slow to heal. It also detracts from the many critical problems facing the country. Despite significant progress over the years, there are pockets of resistance on both sides of the racial divide, that carry too much negativity from the past, making if difficult to tackle as one people our many important issues ...

Moving ahead does not mean forgetting about social injustices of the past, but in order to embrace a new day where we can sit down together not as black or white Bermudians, but simply as Bermudians, will require seeing each other beyond skin tones. There is much talk about tourism these days with countless suggestions and various plans to hopefully resuscitate this industry which was once the key source of our income. No matter how many plush hotels we build or how much we spend on advertising, our island product will only be as good as the basic attitudes of our people.

After all it was people who actually put us on the map as a special resort, apart from our lovely beaches and pleasant weather. Much needs to done in this area, if we hope to recapture the spirit that once produced success.

While we hear countless stories of young people with negative attitudes, I asked a young man working near my home last week had he finished school and what his aspirations were. He told me he did complete high school, and had no intention of sitting on any wall, but that getting ahead without experience was discouraging. His view was that experience is gained by being given an opportunity.

He then explained that Bermuda needed a good technical school for young men like himself who wanted to learn a trade. Lastly he said $11 million wasted on a cricket team may have helped establish such a school. I encouraged him to stay positive, and he assured me he would remain focused on working to improve himself.

Bermuda needs to reach out to these young people who want something better than just a promise that things will get better. A number of young men have already been lost to the underworld of illegal drug activity where quick money and danger is a way of life.

We can do better, and we must do better, or the next generation will not be proud of this generation. The opportunity must not be missed.

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Published September 20, 2011 at 9:52 am (Updated September 20, 2011 at 9:52 am)

Making the right choice

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