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Mandates come and mandates go

Donald Trump experienced some pushback in Tuesday’s midterm elections, but remains as defiant as ever (Photograph by Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

The sociological theory that crisis brings change rang true in the midterm elections. Many Americans, indeed much of the world, breathed a sigh of relief if not jubilation that sanity and human civility can be effectively be re-engaged in American politics.

No, this was not a presidential election and there will be no change in the executive branch. However, this election was very much a vote on Donald Trump’s performance, and the result has provided the country with the oversight over the executive that the GOP was not willing to do.

What can we take away from these past two years? The first is that too much power can lead to a type of arrogance that could make leadership feel invincible. The election victory in 2016 that the President never ceases talking about increased his feeling of opulence and added a new dimension of power. His last portrait framing this form of arrogance will be his classification of persons fleeing hardship as a “caravan attacking American borders and if they throw a rock consider it as if having a weapon”.

Many were caught in this illusion and cheered it on like loyal sheep, but fortunately the majority saw the immorality of that position, stood for principle and voted for change.

Some of us may presume this election was a thousand miles away from our shores, but the principle applies as much here as it does anywhere. Barbados recently had a general election and a once popular government lost all of its seats to a new government that took 100 per cent of the contested seats. This was not as a result of party favouritism and political games; the reality is that people want a better life and they expect the leaders to at least assist in making life better.

As globalisation increases and the landscape of the economies around the world shows an increase of pressure on the lives of the middle-class and working-class people, more and more the political attitude is drifting away from patriotism towards what works for the betterment. In other words, loyalty still exists, but it is a dying commodity. Fixing the problem is becoming more the operative.

Traditional support is being replaced by pragmatic support. Politicians can no longer rely on the well-trodden slogans when the pressure of survival on all levels, whether they are budding business persons or basic workers, is real and acute.

“Don’t tell me what you are going to do; show me” is the hidden mantra.

The days of the blank cheque are over: people can see what is or is not happening for them, and will speak with their vote.

We just had a Cabinet shuffle, which is the prerogative of the Premier. This is his first real shuffle of significance and, walking around the town, one can hear there is some public trepidation.

All eyes have become more sharply focused on what those appointments mean — and, in some cases, the lack of appointments.

Taking the positive outlook, one would say it means the Premier is now looking for real performance. In any event, he has turned the lights on. If it is indeed progress that he wishes to show, he would need to do so demonstrably and expeditiously to avoid being tagged with the perception of backroom politics.

Trump has shown that leadership is still a factor that moves and motivates people. Yet the popular tide that gave rise to him could not be sustained by rhetoric. His report card has a score that was judged by what type of world and environment he has created.

A popular mandate is good, but it is what you do with it that counts.

Look at Brexit. Where are its proponents? What did they bring to the table after the fact?

There are too many examples around the world of governments and their needy people — no one should be asleep.

Bermuda has some significant challenges, but it also has some significant opportunities. Our report card will be judged on how we meet the challenges and turn opportunities into our fortune.

We have the capacity in our leadership to meet the challenge and use the opportunities, rather than being pulled by a crisis. Let’s see where we go.