Constitutionally speaking, FDM must present something new – not more of the same
I listened to Marc Bean’s interview and if I had any confusion about where at least he stands, it became crystal clear in his own words. On reflection, the best thing Marc did during the election was to introduce the term Free Democratic "Movement", which from an altruistic perspective may have underwritten his own undoing.
The idea of a movement suggested a bit more than just another party seeking an opportunity. It suggested a movement of people driven with a need towards participatory democracy. However, his interview dispelled that notion and asserted him as wanting to lead another party as an alternative with the principle aim of being a leader under a similar partisan construct attempting to make a difference — as if different people, albeit with a different intent, make all the difference.
In context, it kind of reminded me of the American Revolution, when a group of men understanding the repression of colonialism could have just announced George Washington as king. It might have worked. However, they opted for the higher ideal of creating an anti-monarchist idea of "we the people" when the repression itself was enough to warrant changing the regime.
But they went further and changed the paradigm. It would have been very easy just to change the people at the top with the hope of bringing relief from colonial repression, but that would have resulted in a new repression of their own making. In some measure that is precisely what Marc was indicating in his interview. He said he had the idea and people coming in must conform to his idea, or they can find another party of their own. Those words should be very familiar to the media.
It's quintessential Progressive Labour Party and One Bermuda Alliance where you must conform or find another party. Where is the diversity of ideas? And the right to argue to attain those ideas in a free and open forum? Where is the idea of a referendum and people having the right to propose even legislation? Where is their right to choose the leader, including that that leader should be Marc?
At least in the formation of the PLP in 1963, the first leader was considered only as a provisional or interim leader. OK, all that changed in 1965, but the beginning was truer. The days of “I am your leader and you must follow” are done.
Marc has valuable contributions to make, and he is an avid thinker, but in a democracy one must put those contributions on the altar of reason to allow the ideas to prevail. Democracy is not always perfect; however, it's the agreement to trust the process of mutual consultation and patience that holds people, organisations and even countries together.
The idea of constitutionality is no small matter in laying the foundation for what is meant to be in a political organisation. Particularly, when he says he believes in limited government. If the Constitution is not broad-based and with checks and balances, limited government can mean literally limited to oneself. The present constructs, which he apparently has no problem with, does just that: it is a de facto autocracy where the elected government has a near-complete rule for four or five years and the people have no real say except for a vote every four years.
I am fairly sure that those who bought into the notion of a Free Democratic Movement were not intending to be an alternative of something near the same as what already exists. It's not the question of developing a more benevolent king; the people don't want a monarchy in any form, plain and simple.
The model we have has been broken, has been proved to be divisive, and has long been obsolete. But it was held in place by a powerful oligarchy and now is maintained by some wannabe. It's not a change of leadership on top of a broken model that's needed — we need to change the model and to give strength to and encourage people who want to open the system for the inclusion of every eligible person in Bermuda's electorate to be enabled to participate. The existing parties are stuck on keeping the electorate disenfranchised from their very small membership so that they may hold on to power under the old paradigm.
It is interesting to hear that the FDM is at the stage of developing its constitution because what it ratifies will either provide a challenge to what exists at present, or it will fade into obscurity as another choice to trust new persons with the old apparatus.
No need for us to speculate on what their resolve will be; the only folks who can answer that question will be the FDM.