Winning the peace
OK, in the context of levelling the playing field for Bermuda politics, let's say the war was won. Now Bermuda must win the peace.
I recall the famous author D.H. Lawrence at the end of the First World War complaining about the horrible tools of war and the type of devastation never seen before by the human race.
Winning the peace requires a different skill set; in fact, it is a different game altogether from war. The tools of war cannot bring peace. It is accepted that during the 1960s to break a rigged segregation and oligarchy that governed like the island belonged to them solely, it required a political construct more resembling a military battalion in operation. Because the direction was not deliberative, it required command and loyalty.
While it could always be debated that a more broad-based, consultative approach would have been better for the islands it wasn’t our history, so we are left with the realities of where we are and how we got here.
Just as after a war, the country is suffering ruin, the people are divided, hope is dim and there seems to be little from which to build. The job falls on leadership to inspire vision to pull the country together and find the resource to the recovery. From a political perspective, a tightly knit unit is antithetical to country building. On the contrary, broad support for mutual consultation and individual freedoms, the kinds that allow creativity and thought from every sector to reach the top, is the best way forward.
Years ago, we heard the term “paradigm shift” being used a lot. Today, the order of the day should be “democratise, democratise, democratise”. Although the Parliament is essentially without an opposition, the emphasis should not be trying to build an effective party or gaining members to challenge the status.
The most effective ingredient for our country is to have an informed electorate with “rights”. Being informed is OK, but without rights it is structurally ineffective. To begin with, people need their day to sort out their political affairs. We call that day the General Election, which should be a fixed date with two phases.
Phase 1 is for primaries to select candidates to run for both houses in all constituencies. Phase 2 would be the final election to determine who sits in both the Parliament and the Senate.
After the election should be the ratification of the ministerial post, vetted by the entirety of both houses. The Human Rights Act will need to be upgraded to support the rights of everyone's political opinion, including those of the parliamentarians. Victimisation of anyone for their political opinion or association should be a punishable offence.
With evolved rights inclusive of the right to propose legislation or to recall parliamentarians, the electorate and the vote are given real power. The electorate can also be evolved to have a lever to put the brakes on to the Budget and monetary measures, and cause audits where issues that are suspect can be examined. Naturally, all these instruments can have their limitations to avoid frivolous accusations. However, there is no need to have a sitting opposition as emblematic when you can have an alive electorate with rights.