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Politicians should be wary of voters’ power

Expecting high standards: our politicians should know that the public are keeping a keen eye on their behaviour ahead of the General Election

The political temperature is rising as a General Election for Bermuda looms in the not-too-distant future.

An anxious public is wondering whether our two political parties will become more obsessed with status-building, rather than getting down to the business of serving all the people with nothing short of the highest standards of transparency and respect.

Prior to general elections, politicians worldwide tend to make promises of what they will do once in office, even though in most cases they are hoping the electorate will not press them too hard as to how they hope to achieve what is often a pie-in-the-sky proposition designed to simply gain support.

Surely there is much for both the One Bermuda Alliance Government and the Opposition Progressive Labour Party to learn about changing perceptions by the electorate, especially in that midstream section of voters who keep an open mind about who they should support. Both political parties should watch very closely the dark murky political waters that seem to be sweeping like a flood in the American presidential campaigns.

Almost every day there are bitter exchanges on what constitutes racism, along with attacks and counter-attacks, as voters of all races and ethnic groups attempt to get a clear reading of what is really going on in the controversial race for the White House.

What we don’t want here in Bermuda is a slide to the lowest form of political mudslinging over opinion differences that tend to corrode respect and confidence at a time when the island is in need of co-operative spirit from leaders in every section of community life.

Even the strongest political group can experience infighting over viewpoint differences. Unfortunately in some cases, instead of cooling things down to work out a potential solution, heated exchanges and personal attacks take centre stage, giving the appearance that political status is placed as a higher priority than serving the needs of the people.

Whether our politicians realise it or not, every word they utter on issues concerning the people is open for close examination.

The electorate has every right to hold any member of Parliament accountable for what they perceive as a deviation from expected standards in conduct, while in the role of a public servant.

The public should never be in the position of holding its breath wondering when the next embarrassing moment will come from those serving who should be leading by example.

In America, recently nasty exchanges reached a point where one presidential candidate called another a bigot. Everyone knows that description is far from a compliment, especially in a nation still struggling over issues from post-slavery segregation.

No need to mention names here, it is simply a case of someone exceeding the boundaries of decency. One should be careful in giving the impression they are fully qualified to throw the first stone.

In the world of politics there seems to be no shortage of stones and when politicians of opposing positions clash without giving deep thought before speaking, and inappropriate words are tossed about, apart from diehard supporters for either side, many begin to ponder selecting someone who lacks composure under pressure. Leaders need that quality to keep trust alive.

The easiest thing in the world is to find fault but providing a solution to a problem is another matter. Bermuda is not out of the woods in making a full economic recovery but there are clear signs of increasing entrepreneur activity that indicate that Bermudians are willing to venture into the business world despite the challenge. That should be encouraged because growth in the island’s infrastructure is important.

When our Parliamentarians resume sessions in the House, hopefully all, and we mean all, will make every effort to conduct the business of the people with dignity and respect, no matter the level of differences.

Should politicians, irrespective of which party they represent, fail to maintain proper standards the voters will give their verdict at the polls. The General Election may seem a little distance away, but no politician can afford to be taking a chance with undecided voters, who can tip the scales one way or the other.