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By the people, for the people

Man of the people: the public appeal of Bernie Sanders almost carried him to the Democratic ticket in the 2020 US presidential race (File photograph by John Minchillo/AP)

It should be official now: public life and freedoms are under the complete disregard and behest of not the Parliament but the Progressive Labour Party — more specifically, the party leadership.

Several months ago, the Bermuda electorate woke up to the realisation that its leadership and fate as a country was to be decided by 122 delegates, 30 MPs, and one or two others with no real attachment or link to the island’s 40,000 voters. Yes, they knew about the PLP annual delegates conference, but it did not hit home until vigorous discussions on the leadership challenge lit a candle for all to see just how skewed and limited the process was.

OK, well? Weekend before last, the party leadership — better known as the parliamentary caucus — held a retreat to air differences and find a pathway forward. I assume this much because, truthfully, no one knows the agenda. That is the problem, folks. No one knows what the country’s leaders are discussing because no one has informed the public of what went on, given this was an internal matter that the party mouthpiece referred to as a family retreat.

The PLP leadership does not even pretend now to be a democracy and seemingly doesn’t need to with such a majority. It should be common sense that what we have is the recreation of a monarchy or at the very least the authoritarian rule of one. It is a family affair and none except the family members matter. No need to apply; only those favoured are admitted. Unfortunately, power has caused blindness and they can no longer see themselves.

The perennial cure for Bermuda and its autocracy, as proved through history, is a democracy of the people — by the people, for the people. There is nothing wrong with parties if they are controlled by the people. Bernie Saunders is not a Democrat, he is a democratic socialist. However, the people chose him to run as a Democrat. That’s the kind of power people in Bermuda need to have. The people, not the parties, need to determine who represents them as a parliamentarian under whatever party.

The people need to have the mechanism of accountability in their hands, not those of the parties. If an MP is not performing or has committed moral wrongs or some indecency or is untrustworthy, the people need to have the vehicle of “recall” at their disposal without having to wait for the party boss to wield discipline.

The people need their own day for a general election so that they can have the benefit of planning their political affairs. We are all equal. There is no one with superiority. Therefore, everyone’s political affairs and responsibilities are the same as everyone else’s. No one person should preserve the sole right to call an election when it suits them. This is fundamental to the rights of people, not philosophical.

If Bermuda leaves the political bosses to their own devices, they will further entrench their rule with an attempt to take the island towards independence against the will of the overwhelming majority. Given the times, they may succeed. They don’t care. Those leading the charade already have their American and British passports; it’s the poor locals and future generations who don’t have those passports that will pay the price of the autocrat’s fiefdom.

Bermuda can ill-afford another impostor posing as a party of fiscal responsibility to fill the vacuum. Particularly when they come with the same party machinery alleging to be a representative government party. If it does not come from the people and has their endorsement and consent, it too — like this cabal — is not a legitimate representative of the people.

Let’s begin to use our common sense. It’s not rocket science or a mystical affair. People need to have the reins on the government of their choice. It’s natural human frailty that, given the opportunity, people will gain utility over the other and monarchs will rule with absolutism if not checked. Therefore, to have human and individual freedom, the need to limit the rule of any authority is absolute.

Authoritarianism is in opposition to human freedom: in our context, an illegitimate form of governance that a civilised society should have no allegiance or moral requirement to follow.

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Published February 01, 2023 at 8:00 am (Updated January 31, 2023 at 1:50 pm)

By the people, for the people

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