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Celebration of mediocrity

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Mischa Fubler has an interesting take on what should qualify one to be fit for Bermuda status or a permanent resident’s certificate (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Bermuda is failing, and a large minority absolutely accepts that. The downward trajectory we are on is a story of defeatism, self-interest and complacency. We are propped up by a campaign of smoke and mirrors, unfulfilled promises and a narrative that we are improving when the opposite is without a doubt true. If we are prepared to look at the state of Bermuda’s economy, it is a celebration of mediocrity at best and a complete house of cards at worst.

So why the cynical overview?

These days if you were to measure the success of Bermuda based on the smell of stale urine that is embedded throughout Hamilton, the repressed anger that manifests itself in shootings, rising road deaths, the passive-aggressive attitude all around us — especially on the roads — dozens of empty shops and restaurants, and the ever-diminishing hotel bed count and terribly low airlift, you should be truly depressed.

What are we doing? Day by day we seek the path of going out of our way to overboil the golden egg and neglect the goose that laid it — in addition to its entire offspring, old and young. We are insulting the only continued success story of international business in Bermuda and contributing long-term labour with a steadfast refusal to seriously explore grants of status on a fear that such a grant would “dilute the voting power of the working class, which is likely people of colour”. (Mischa Fubler, September 13, 2023)

Remember, “It is the economy, stupid!” (James Carville – Hillary Clinton election strategist). When the economy is doing well, it is rare indeed that a sitting government is tossed out. I would argue that a government that grants status and accepts the premise that those who have lived among us for 20 years, regardless of race or cultural background, would be hard-pressed to lose an election given the effects new Bermudians would have on our economy through business investment to housing purchases.

Sadly, we are stuck in a hamster-wheel thought process that giving status to those who have been here for 20 years or more means the recipients would vote en masse for the Opposition. Even if that were true, which I do not accept, all these alleged antigovernment stooges would, per the Progressive Labour Party’s narrative, already be living in “wealthy White” areas. Following this argument to its logically illogical conclusion would mean “White constituencies” are unwinnable already for the PLP, so nothing would actually change!

If we continue to be stubbornly complacent, the bottom card on the House of Bermuda will be pulled, and then we are all doomed. We are already shaky, and a small blow will finish us. Heck, you can kill someone and be released from jail after 20 years! Yet we steadfastly reject those skilled guest workers needed in Bermuda. They are here by government invite only and continue to receive multiple approvals to stay, so they are hardly illegal interlopers stealing our jobs!

Recently, David Burt “tacitly acknowledged that there are some in IB that want to become Bermudians” (ZBM). The Premier said, regarding those seeking status: “You do not complain that you do not get a right to vote in the United Arab Emirates, I’m not entirely certain why you are complaining about not having the right to citizenship here in Bermuda.”

First, I am not sure how many people seeking Bermuda status are also citizens of the UAE. It cannot be many, if any! Second, and more importantly, what you are not being told is that in the UAE, of the 40 members on its legislative body, 20 are indirectly elected by the hand-picked 33 per cent of Emirati citizens who have voting rights through an electoral college while the other 20 are appointed by the rulers of each emirate. In other words, most Emirati citizens cannot vote anyway! Since when has a party that quite rightly prides itself on introducing to Bermuda “one man, one vote” wants Bermuda to be compared to a borderline dictatorship whose human rights record is not exactly sterling?

The new election candidate for the PLP in Constituency 8, Mischa Fubler, when speaking to ZBM on September 13, said: “Population growth is desperately needed” and that “it is not an unfair assessment” that the PLP is seven years behind the eight ball when it comes to dealing with the issue. He went on to say that he can foresee a route to status with the key determining factor [if status were to be granted] being community engagement.

He said: “If you want to transition from PRC to status, I want to see what is your sports club, do you go to county games on the weekend, are you engaging not just financially but with your time? Is your social circle only other expatriates? If you made meaningful connections, then I’m on board with you transitioning from PRC to citizen.”

So, I have to ask this. What would a status-application form look like under such a scenario?

What is going on in our beloved Bermuda that anyone would even think to ask what sports club a person attends when applying for status, when by invitation, they have dedicated the better part of a lifetime in Bermuda?

Imagine making a citizenship application for Britain — which Bermudians already benefit from simply by being Bermudian — where points are awarded to you based on whether you support a London rugby club or a third division football club outside Doncaster. In Bermuda, would more points be given for attending weekly football matches and fewer if you are a member of a field hockey team? Or a tennis club versus a cricket club? Would more points be given if your social circle is White or Black Bermudian?

Equally, we should not be engaging in political conversations about any Bermudian public figure’s heritage or place of birth as if it is a legitimate debating point. Rather, we should stick to conversations and critiques relating to that person’s political policies and their effect on Bermuda.

Why accept illogical arguments and points of view not based on facts? Too many of us behave like the cartoon ostrich that buries its head in the sand and ignores reality. It is time to stop this and have a proper conversation based on actualities, not scaremongering and racial stereotypes. We can do better, and we must. If we do nothing, our long-term contributors to Bermuda will go where they are celebrated and not merely tolerated.

To do better, we need to do politics differently. I believed it in 2010 with the Bermuda Democratic Alliance, and I still do. Pragmatic decisions may not always feel like the right ones, but it is time to try. Our racial past is prejudicing good decision-making. I believe that Black and White Bermudians will vote one day strictly on what party presents the best candidates and policies, not on the practices of racial division and historical demons. Franklin D. Roosevelt said: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

It is time to stop being scared.

Michael Fahy was the Government Senate Leader and Cabinet minister in the One Bermuda Alliance government from 2012 to 2017

• Michael Fahy was the Government Senate Leader and Cabinet minister in the One Bermuda Alliance government from 2012 to 2017. Thoughts or comments to opedfahy@gmail.com

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Published September 19, 2023 at 8:00 am (Updated September 19, 2023 at 7:19 am)

Celebration of mediocrity

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