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Politics in Bermuda – you just can’t beat it

I think we all should consider a career change. I wish I could say this is satire or a rhetorical point, but unfortunately it isn’t; it’s real life as experienced in Bermuda and in many parts of the world.

If anyone were to advise their sons and daughters what career option they should seek, there is a logical one: become a politician, then aspire to be the leader. It does not matter what name or type of jurisdiction, call it premier, president, prime minister, and for the jurisdiction, call it a republic, a democracy, or even an autocracy. Just make sure that whatever it is, you are the leader.

If you don’t manage to become leader, all is not lost; statistically, the fates of subordinate roles are still reasonably secure. Secondary roles such as Cabinet ministers have proved to be almost as lucrative. Even at the lowest level of participation as a parliamentarian, it guarantees a life beyond poverty, and this without having to have a cause or mutter a word.

From a career perspective, the one thing leadership has proved, particularly in small jurisdictions, is that one can come in poorer than a proverbial church mouse, and within four years become a millionaire — for some, multimillionaires.

They can live in a one-room flat beside a waste disposal dump, or at the edge of a cemetery, even come out of jail, and inside the year live in palatial surroundings. There is not a career in town that can guarantee that kind of performance or success in as short a time. If money, prestige and being considered honourable is the aim, the lowest hanging fruit to get there is being a politician.

Yes, I know it’s like winning the lottery, but this career is achievable; it falls within most persons’ grasp. While it is good to have some education, not much is needed — just enough to recognise opportunity and what it takes to be liked or trusted.

The old saying is: “Find a parade and jump in front of it.”

Five more years: David Burt addresses Progressive Labour Party supporters after victory in the General Election in October 2020 (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Listen to the people, then tell them what they want to hear; they don’t need to be told the truth, either, because that will only get one crucified — world history has taught that. Truth is for meant for the martyrs, but they all get killed, so be a leader instead and let everyone else get killed for you.

They will die one way or another; either through poverty, malnutrition, social neglect, murder or suicide. Even business can fail but it will have no effect on a political career because the last drop of blood left in the economy will go to the politician.

Long ago people were under monarchies and the monarchs held such positions as do the politicians of today, but in a very insular way. Noble ideas emerged among the people about leadership being a service to the people and of ideas that restricted the power and rule of the monarchs. These ideas were launched under various titles such as republic, democracy and liberty, which were intended to level the playing field and cause leadership to be by consent, making mankind free from the tyranny and treachery of a fellow human.

The pursuit of human dignity under a civil, egalitarian system still remains as an idea, as does self-aggrandisement, which is more at play along with the tendency to evade accountability. Vigilance is meant to be the key to keeping things on a progressive course.

Clever leaders have long learnt that while the system speaks of the masses, it is only the few that need to be appeased. The masses can be avoided when all that is needed is to win a handful of support from within a party. It is for that reason that the most effective movement in the late 19th century and early 20th century in the United States was the “Progressive Movement”, which attempted to level the playing field by breaking the control of strong party bosses and giving the common person an open primary. No, it’s not the end-all and be-all, but it is the beginnings of fairness and the decentralisation of party control and dominance, giving back power to the people.

Party politics began as a tool to break up an oligarchy, but it became a dagger that stabbed its host in the back, betrayed its aim and became the very object that was fought against. It is not party politics that is at fault; it’s the construct of party politics, which lives off alienation and disenfranchising the electorate and their own support from participating.

“Oh,” they will say, “all you have to do is join and you then have the privilege”. To heck with privilege; that’s who is killing us, it’s the privileged. What about the right of everyone to participate? Until we understand that simple principle, the game will continue.

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Published June 27, 2022 at 8:00 am (Updated June 27, 2022 at 8:02 am)

Politics in Bermuda – you just can’t beat it

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