We are in need of intensive care
Bermuda is in a critical condition economically, and without question, in need of intensive care, with little room for political game playing in prescribing the right medicine to treat the many ailments that continue to threaten this generation, and those yet unborn.
Political game playing is nothing new in democracies around the world. Too often when politicians get a taste of power, many values they trumpet prior to an election, such as honesty, truth, transparency, and integrity, are quietly pushed aside in the interest of holding on to that power almost at any cost. It is as though many politicians undergo some type of transformation once in office, and what matters most afterwards is their survival, and the people second.
At a time when we need all hands on deck to save our Island ship, we have crew members still in their rooms arguing over what the previous Government should or should not have done, to avoid the plight which placed Bermuda in economic jeopardy. That will be debated for years to come. In other words, while Bermudians urgently wait for more positive developments to improve the economic state of the country, leftover political game playing which hammered our Island prior to the last election, is still a factor.
After 14 years as Government with an electorate that was growing extremely disappointed with the Progressive Labour Party's performance, and Bermuda sinking deeper and deeper into debt, the populace decided to send a major wake-up call. They simply voted the PLP out of office, leaving them and many of their supporters in a state of shock. The PLP had overplayed their hand in underestimating the mood of the Bermudian people, and paid the ultimate political price. However that should never be viewed as an end game for them. The Bermudian people will always be bigger than any political party.
The One Bermuda Alliance, a relatively new political machine with a mixture of experience and new faces, quickly became a ray of hope for many, as the former United Bermuda Party crumbled, and faded from the scene. They too had once enjoyed a lengthy spell as Government, but fell out of touch with a changing Bermuda, and slipped into the political abyss. Every Government in any democracy, must keep its finger on the pulse of the community they serve, or they too could find themselves wishing they had put the people first.
The new leader of the Opposition PLP, Marc Bean, deserves credit for openly admitting what so many already knew, that the PLP Government made mistakes while in office, which could happen to any Government. Apart from mistakes, the PLP also made blunders in handling the people's purse, to an extent that sent alarm bells ringing in the Auditors General's Office, leaving questions yet to be fully answered. Mr Bean faces a daunting task in attempting to redefine his party's image after defeat at the polls, but no one should be critical of him for trying.
The task today, is how do we move forward collectively in the face of a financial crisis without creating further divisions largely based on political persuasion. We need to work together like a symphony orchestra. Harmony results from blending talents in a positive manner.
Trust in the political arena is not easily regained once lost, because the people seldom take deception lightly. Politicians must remember constituents for both party's took time out to cast their ballots for whatever it was they believed in. Some voted for a particular party because that was the way they always voted, while others felt a change was needed. It was democracy in action.
Now after almost a year in office, the OBA is trying to hang on to the momentum which put them in the driver's seat, while being fully aware that the Opposition will take full advantage of any wobble by the new administration. Wounds from a political defeat do not heal overnight, and the Government should expect a robust Opposition looking for any weakness to exploit and they have that right.
We should learn a great deal from the current situation in the United States, as the Republican Party wages a bitter battle against the Democrats over the ObamaCare health venture. While the programme has encountered major technical snags that hurt the objectives, some observers feel the GOP is so bitter after losing the Presidential election, that some will stop at nothing to hurt the president politically, in fact, even at the point of shutting down the Government. The bottom line is that politicians everywhere seldom take losing gracefully. It is just a political reality.
The OBA, if they hope to maintain trust and confidence from the people, must raise the bar in transparency, by clear communication on any issue of importance to the Bermudian people. Even with initiatives that sound economically promising, there should be more details as to what is involved. It is always the fine print that can hold hidden surprises. The Bermudian people are in no mood for political game playing when so much is at stake. The job situation is very serious, and the fallout is impacting our social infrastructure. When people are hurting they are not concerned about which political party is in power. They simply want the truth and what is best for their families, and indeed Bermuda. Nice sounding words do little to help a family in desperate need.
Although political confrontation is a part of democracy, we should be mindful that political game playing to maintain or gain status, usually hurts the people. Doing what is right, should be the priority of every politician. In other words the people first, and the party last should be our motto.