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We owe intellectual honesty to future generations

Day of reckoning: the scene at Devonshire Recreational Club on Monday night

Congratulations to David Burt for becoming the ninth leader of the Progressive Labour Party. The timing of his ascension is pivotal heading into a General Election in a little more than a year’s time.

The country has numerous challenges such as the economy, crime, education, immigration and senior care — all of them relying on wise and balanced leadership.

Fortunately, Burt’s education and experience are comparable to the task before him. The PLP has a natural advantage going towards the next election, but still has a lot to prove with this Bermuda electorate, which abandoned the party in disgust in 2012. It will be the task of Burt to rebuild the confidence in a PLP government.

My role is to point to the principles of democracy until it finally sinks in. There is no better time to do so, given the presidential election in the United States. Burt won the title of leader by a vote of 39-35, which means 74 persons were the electorate.

We have a total electorate of approximately 41,000 with roughly 50-50 electoral support going historically to either party.

We have a system where 74 persons out 41,000 have the privilege of selecting what could be the national leader of the country.

The PLP is proud of what it has inherited in spite of being the recipient of long struggle to end the privilege disrupted by ending the property vote. Statistically, Burt gained his leadership with .0019 per cent of the electoral vote per party and .00095 per cent of the overall national ballot.

The paramount of democratic goals would be to extend that privilege to the entire electorate, and it could be done if there was a will to do so.

We have for the past 18 months been hammered by a process to elect the president of the US. In spite of the electoral college factor, which is a carry-over from the past, we have witnessed a process that engaged the entire electorate involving more than 100 million voters, which looks more like democracy at work; particularly when compared with a system where, in the quiet of the night, 70-plus persons can be summoned to select potentially the next leader of a country.

Bermuda is a sophisticated economy and jurisdiction, except when we unravel our political processes.

Then we become an antiquated Old World jurisdiction with Dark Age principles, masquerading as a democracy.

Worse, there are those who actually believe in this privileged system. Even more blind and delusional are those who believe they brought change and do not realise they only, in reality, exchanged one system of privilege for another.

We owe intellectual honesty to future generations and must begin the process of understanding what it means to have a “participatory democracy”.