A test for the electorate
Whenever the waters become rough in the political arena in just about any country that operates under the principles of democracy, the electorate is faced with trying to see beneath disturbed muddy waters in order to express themselves with confidence. It does this in the knowledge that the power of the vote could determine how the future will be shaped in the best interests of our island home Bermuda.
Our democracy is wonderful because it allows free expression without fear of persecution for having views that may not be in harmony with the One Bermuda Alliance government of the day, or an opposition Progressive Labour Party seeking to gain that authority.
Although most politicians will not openly admit this, in most cases they are always troubled by that middle voting group, who could sway an election result based purely on who they feel will be better suited to deal with the significant challenges that the island is confronted with.
In other words, outside of those diehard supporters that the OBA and PLP have, there are many middle-stream voters who see the present situation as a political thrust for power, with the will of the people taking a back seat in that struggle.
One might ask: what is the will of the Bermudian people? The answer could depend on what people perceive as the highest priority in trying to move Bermuda forward both economically and socially, which would help to alleviate negative elements such as violent crime, gang activity and the ever-present underworld of illegal drugs, which continue to touch just about every family in one form or another. General elections have a way of bringing out the good, the bad and the ugly of politics. A troubling factor for our politicians is that the electorate may at times seem to be asleep, but their memory system kicks in when reflecting on the track records of both the Government and the PLP — and that could be a factor when that moment comes to step into the voting booth.
It is not a question of not liking this or that person seeking office, but more importantly what that vote could mean for all of Bermuda.
Ironically, both the Government and the PLP have had their share of stumbles, and voters — especially those in the middle — will be reviewing track records as close as possible to determine who they should support in the quest to improve our economic infrastructure through more jobs and to keep our vital tourist industry expanding to benefit all. The OBA learnt the hard way when Craig Cannonier was forced to resign his premiership over a lack of transparency in the Jetgate scandal that involved a potential overseas investor.
That incident put the relatively new government in a scrambling mode to regain the people's trust. It would be true to say under a new premier that the OBA has toiled to right the ship, although not without political setbacks having taken a toll.
On the other hand, the PLP is not without troubles, stemming from its highly questionable handling of the public purse. Special reports from the Office of the Auditor-General raised many questions over alleged unaccountable costs running into the millions of dollars regarding various contracts during its tenure in government. Much of that is yet to be resolved, with a special commission of inquiry into the matter recommending investigations in some instances.
The Bermudian people know elections can be ugly when the heat is on, with politicians going at each other and forgetting that we are all on the same boat. Should that boat sink, it will take the captain and everyone else down with it.
That is not the Bermuda most people want. Getting to the high ground of sound reasoning and co-operation between both political groups will require give and take, and the ability to see beyond political objectives in serving the people — all of the people — with nothing short of truth and transparency at every step.
The electorate will tender the final verdict in selecting the next government and the people can only hope that in the end the real winner will be Bermuda.