The people need a revolution of thought
Can I make the assessment such as that made with the former United Bermuda Party that suggests that we are now at the end of another socio-political life cycle?
It was very easy to see that the UBP had run its course and that its time was up with the social substance to foster another victory having lost its fibres. Obviously, it would be more difficult to foresee that with a Progressive Labour Party, particularly after just capturing a monumental, landslide victory.
It would be naturally quite difficult to imagine this could be the end rather than a beginning of a new day. Any reasonable thinker would say they would do the same again, or at least that it will take a very long time for any credible opposition to develop the momentum necessary to eclipse the PLP.
There is a Koranic verse that says: “When the help of God comes and the victory, and thou dost see the people enter God’s way in crowds, celebrate the praises of thy Lord and pray for His forgiveness: for He is oft-returning (in grace and mercy).”
In short, the best way to entertain success when blessed with a victory is with humility. That's when one should conduct their affairs with gratitude, realising that it is a gift to be used wisely as trustees of God’s favour to the victor — not as vainglory. You know: “Look at what I've done."
Care should be taken not to overly celebrate the prestige of power, when that power truly is loaned for only a season and for a noble purpose. A little humility is asked; if not, it invites the end.
I'm a getting to be a bit old at 70 to offer any muscle in the political game of power; nor is there any example of ideological revolutions fostered successfully by old men — unless, of course, we consider George Washington, who was thought in 1775 to be old at 57. To be fair to the subject, persons at my age would not be interested in tinkering with the politics by exchanging political polemics.
At this age, for one to be practical, they could be interested only in a full-scale revolution of thought and purpose. For a Bermudian, at some stage in life, one is ready to see a real transformation from what has forever been an autocracy towards a political construct that involves all the people, and with a sense of urgency.
In my own world view, we have been tinkering too long and got nothing except one master after another, all of whom were intent on keeping power away from the masses to preserve a privileged position that serves only a few.
It doesn't matter whether it is Black or White, an autocracy is an autocracy, and it yields the same result no matter who runs it.
I suggest that the people — Black, White and all the shades in between — are actually tired and have out grown it; just like the populace had outgrown the UBP. The problem today is that populace has not found a way out.
It is a revolution that is needed, not just a stronger opposition. And, let it be clear, armed or violent struggle is not what is being called for; rather, it is a revolution of thought, which is compelled by the realisation that we have an educated public, an electorate, that is functionally disenfranchised without a voice of meaningful connection as a vehicle of input to the political processes. Added to that is a political hierarchy that does not want or feel the need for the inclusion of the masses of the electorate, either.
There is no such thing as "the people" — not in the existing paradigm. Rather, it is the voiceless people, the disenfranchised, the marginalised people as the reality for the vast and near total electorate who are the majority.
All those in favour of building a stronger opposition need to be informed that many of the older folk will not live long enough to see that day. All those in favour of a better way and a better day, there is good news and hope for them because they actually represent the vast majority and can have that day anytime they choose.
Where do you start? You start in your heart and in your mind. When do you start? You can start right now by deciding you are a "soldier for the good". How long will it take? If you have bought in to the notion that you must wait for another five years for a General Election, you have taken the political bait and deception of the process. However, if one understands the power of the will of the people, it could happen on demand.
I read recently of somewhere around 1838, that there was a friendly society called "The Good Intenders". This was a bunch of formerly enslaved Africans in Southampton who were trying to set things straight. We need a few good intenders today to begin the process of setting Bermuda straight.
With the latest fascination among many Bermudians to research their family histories, and with the modern tools such as ancestor.com, DNA test kits and many others as well as chat rooms. It has become patently clear that most Bermudians across both “colours”, and all the shades in between, are somehow related. We are not just one tribe, but for the majority are one family also.
Yes, it is true that for too long we looked upon ourselves as “other”, and for too long we have seen harm because of different shades. We can, if we keep the perspective of one tribe and one family foremost in our minds, arrive at a new level of humanity and develop a genuine politic, getting the best out of all of us brought forward in a new spirit of togetherness.
We don't need to allow a minority to cause division anywhere among us because of any social, economic or racial consideration. Divide and conquer has served its time; let’s wave goodbye to race-baiting, not out of naivety, but out of a renewed, elevated and evolved sense of who we truly are as one tribe of Bermudians.
This approach is no denial of our past or our separateness, but rather as an affirmation and acknowledgement of our actual togetherness and greatness awaiting.
To live, instead of as in our divided past, live by the code of a family instead. Would that mean tomorrow will be perfect and all the ways and faults of the past and even the pangs of slavery will vanish? No it doesn't, but it means we can work towards that perfection, particularly when it is your stated goal.
When we move with that spirit, we can then develop the constitutional status where everyone can work and contribute as an equal member of the body politic. A constitution where the power is derived from the base; where people and their input and voice will be tied to the governance always and not just a vote every four or five years; where a common man or woman can propose an idea or a legislation, in the form of referendum if they gain the support of a significant percentage of the population on matters that an MP or the Senate has not presented — or refused to present.
Matters such as:
• Limited terms for leaders and with accountability
• Open ratification of ministers who are nominated, so as to prevent hierarchy and essentially inheriting seats or choosing mates as ministers
• Open primaries so the constituents get to choose who runs for the party and where anyone who desires could stand to be representing the party of their choice
• An elected Senate, rather than cronies as puppets to Parliament
We want to end the control by party bosses and have the people’s power expressed through the parties. It has been done before; it is just that we are 170 years behind the clock.
This is a revolution that takes away for ever the power of a party leadership to dictate who runs and who gets to serve. It puts that power in the people’s hands where it belongs.
Remove the party whip, bring in freedom of speech and a conscious awareness, create fixed-term elections. It would cause Parliament to have more deliberative debates.
You cannot operate piecemeal with these things, yet they are what you need and in 2021 should already have in place to serve the rights of all the people. It requires a political revolution; otherwise, we are all slaves to an archaic and authoritarian system under people who have no intent to change or confer any more rights to the people.
The truly great thing is the parties could, if they believed in people, adapt to these changes. It’s not about getting rid of the PLP or the OBA; it is about getting rid of processes and ideas that are outdated and holding the country back.