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An ideal political system does not exist yet

I recall 30 years ago feeling that the old guard of the United Bermuda Party had run its course and it was time not just for new blood, but a wholesale change.

Notwithstanding, I also recall the likes of the late Julian Hall and others arguing in meetings around Alaska Hall back in the early 1980s, asking the leaders of that era to pass on the baton. There is something about the nature of our politics, which generates longevity, generating that sense of that same old humdrum routine and where a seat in Parliament can last a conceivable lifetime — to such an extent a parliamentarian can almost bequeath or will the seat down the family line like an inheritance.

As a result of a fairly rigged segregation, the majority of Bermuda's parliamentary seats are presumptive safe seats one way or another, with perhaps only a half-dozen marginals. This political map was fashioned not by ideology, but by the dynamics of a segregated society, and its natural evolution is what brings us to where we are today.

Decades of attempts to adjust the political map were easily undone by one factor alone — you guessed it, race. The perception and perhaps even the reality for the moment is that there are only two parties, one representing the black population, the other the white.

There have been a few attempts, at least in theory, to change the dynamics. However, as hard as the rabbit tries to identify with the squirrels, at the end of the day someone spots it and yells, “It's a rabbit!”

A couple of years ago Grant Gibbons retired from politics, and a few years before him it was John Barritt. Now Trevor Moniz has stepped down and, given that Scott Pearman is a “newbie”, all eyes are on Michael Dunkley as the last of the white old guard.

Everyone knows, again in theory, it can't be right that whites need to stay out of the political arena, or anywhere near the helm, to have an effective two-party state where there is a black majority, and have a chance to win at the polls. Yet it is a political reality. That the equation cannot be fixed may be another reality, so what can the country do to have diverse representation?

To be absolutely logical, there is an old saying when you find you're digging yourself into a hole, the first thing to do is throw down the shovel. Unless there is some glory in being called “The Loyal Opposition”, why pursue it?

Yes, unilaterally drop out of the race because truly there is no contest; it's an “illusion”. It is completely dishonest to portend that the possibility of winning an election exists when it doesn't.

Be honest. Turn out the lights, take the files to the archives, for history's sake. Keep your dignity by doing the true service for the future and allow a metamorphosis to naturally occur. Bermuda has become a one-party, eligible-only state, so “let it be” and develop democratic principles for the entire state.

I don't get it when a politician says they will continue to serve for the good of their constituents. I ask, to do what good? Complain about what the government is or isn't doing? I am sure that every constituent wants their hands felt to be around the handles of government and not in the background trying to be heard.

This is not to suggest that proper criticism and cross-dialogue isn't needed for healthy governance. Rather, it is that the format for Bermuda to be governed, and the prospects for a true participatory democracy for all the people of Bermuda under this system, has expired and cannot be changed. This present construct has its genesis in a pre-existing racial struggle and continues to this day and will continue for ever if we let it.

The time has truly come when the proverb “He that recognises the city destroys it, and he that doesn't is destroyed by it”, is a truth. I don't say this as sarcasm or to be derogatory. I do wish it as advice and a call to recognise the political dilemma of being obsolete.

Continued service as a parliamentary opposition is in reality a disservice and an intellectual dishonest position at best, and is a form of narcissism to hold on to a platform that cannot be advanced tangibly. For far too many, there is one of either two perspectives as the essence of the political ethos seen as reality.

At the moment, as by one sector, there is the perception that blacks are incapable at governing or that whites are better at governing. By the other, should the One Bermuda Alliance govern it will do so only to maintain the status quo and leave crumbs on the table for the black population.

There is nothing else when you squeeze the reality out of dominant perceptions. The more ethical vantage position for the country should be, what team or persons can better serve the entire country and help it prosper mutually, but we are a hundred years away from that perspective — and, sadly, we know it.

No matter what anyone believes of the Progressive Labour Party government, proposing an opposition under the existing political dynamic is a ritual of futility. It is better to be honest, save the taxpayers money and stop the charade. It is not a contest, so let's not pretend it is. Allow the new paradigm shift and whatever can happen next by letting the inevitable occur. Allow the PLP to assume the Government, then everybody thereafter can figure how to develop their say within the party. Admittedly this is pacifism, but it is the best alternative to what otherwise is a masquerade.

The political object and aim should be based on the principle of “All persons are equal and entitled to certain inalienable rights”. The only road towards that is not adversarial or reactionary. It is not a power struggle; rather, it is asserting our inherent purpose to create a civil society of equals and advance peace and prosperity for all.

File photograph by Blaire Simmons

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Published August 14, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated August 14, 2020 at 9:18 am)

An ideal political system does not exist yet

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