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Truth and accountability

Election season is well underway, with the political parties selecting parliamentary candidates and positioning themselves for a general election.Care needs to be taken not to get too carried away with the primaries, as they are a little like the trial matches for Cup Match teams. Being chosen to play is an accomplishment, but what you do in “The Game” is what counts.Of course, for most people anyway, politics is a far more serious business than cricket as lives are affected by vital decisions that either improve the lives of the people, or create a climate where trust, transparency and accountability are thrown into doubt.Too often, we hear about safe constituency seats for this or that political party, and it is no secret that this is often because one group has a larger or smaller number of supporters, usually stemming from racial balance, or lack thereof. It is a sad reality. We can only hope this will eventually fade and the quality of a candidate will be the only thing that really matters to the voter.Until that day arrives voters will need to examine closely what candidates are saying, along with performance, before deciding who to support on the big day. I heard a preacher say once:,”The devil never goes after people he already has.” In politics, it is that uncommitted voter who has the power to shift the balance in the democratic process. On that note, it would be constructive to avoid demeaning a candidate from either political party based on his or her actions of the past. If a candidate falls terribly short of expected standards the populace can speak through the ballot box.Bermuda is in desperate need of bold, clear and sound leadership to tackle the many problems confronting our Island home. Having the right people in the right positions is far more important than mere victory for a political party, irrespective of how long they have been calling the shots.Our tourism is in need of a new strategy with our main North American market in an economic crisis that undoubtedly will mean less people willing to travel or even spend during difficult times. Our product should be so good that our customers will be our best advertisements.Changing the subject, many questions still hang over the state of our education system. Despite a series of ministers over the years, too many of our students are weak in reading and speaking skills, not to mention disturbing conduct, which many believe is a result of little or no discipline at home. Whether this can be turned around by an overseas consultant remains to be seen, since there have been highly paid consultants in the past with no dramatic results. Part of the problem is changing patterns of family life where children call the shots instead of parents, creating extra problems for already hard pressed teachers. Turning this around will not be easy.Many parents are deeply troubled over the economic downturn that has made job security one of their primary concerns. They feel challenged every single day and wonder just when the financial rug will be pulled out from under them. Some of these Bermudians have a real struggle in getting even a small piece of the shrinking economic pie.There is no way the spending process of Government in recent years and a lack of transparency can be swept under the carpet with an, “oh, we won’t let that happen any more”, as sufficient to justify being kept in the seat of power.Most sound thinking Bermudians want any Government of the day to succeed, because real success means better opportunities for all, and an inspired people working together can achieve a great deal.A fresh and vigorous approach is needed in the area of healthcare which falls short, especially with many of our seniors. Nothing should be spared in making sure our seniors, who have toiled over the years, are adequately covered for whatever medical treatment they need.Stories of doctors charging up front because Government insurance payments are too slow only creates hardship for some seniors who would rather bypass treatment in order to pay for food and shelter. That is certainly not the Bermuda we can be proud of.Crime has created fear throughout our communities because illegal drug activity has led to a new breed of criminal who will stop at nothing to feed a habit even if it means hurting someone or even worse. Also our respected justice system could be in need of upgrading with tougher laws to send a message that criminals will not hold our communities hostage.Most of all, Bermuda must have values such as truth, transparency and accountability from whoever forms the next Government if this country is to move forward in a manner that will benefit everyone. This should be the priority of every single candidate seeking to represent the people of our beloved country.