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We need to end vicious political game of war

Time for change: one of Donald Trump’s campaign cries was “Drain the swamp”. We need to do some draining, too, of a systemic rule that is less dignified than “the swamp” in Washington

Many, many years ago, a math professor often repeated a French term, which means “I am doctoring my own ignorance”. True to those words, life has been a journey of unmasking my own ignorance, sometimes referred to as naivety.

For example, I thought everyone in their hearts wanted a better and fairer world, and would work towards it if they knew.

I understood ignorance was pervasive and therefore invested a lot of time and energy trying to articulate better ways and truths with the hope of dispelling darkness.

Then, 20-plus years ago, another wise older gentleman said he does not find much disagreement with what I say but my problem is that I think everyone is like me and they aren’t, and that I must begin to see people as they are.

The advice was precious and provided a buffer against disappointment.

Another helpful observation is to understand that Bermuda politically is not a system of accountability full of checks and balances, working somewhat in spite of who governs.

Government in Bermuda is very personal, which runs systematically about two steps away from a monarchy — closer to a constitutional oligarchy.

Under our system, people who govern matter, and premiers and Cabinet ministers absolutely matter. The people are used conveniently and don’t matter as much.

Government takes on the character of the leaders and becomes the vehicle through which their characters codify as they explode on to the national scene. No amount of role play, camouflage or deodorant can veil the reality of the environment they produce.

Over the past decade and more, Ewart Brown coloured Bermuda’s politics. The Brown factor should have been no surprise or unusual because it goes right to where his heart and character lie. His was not too hard a character to figure out.

The problem occurs when we look across the opposite side of the aisle and believe the same characteristics do not exist.

I used to think that certain members of the present government were just conservative. However, I have learnt that, yes, they are conservative in methodology that is on the surface, while underneath there is raw, self-absorbed tribalism whose first and last priority is self-protection and propagation.

Our politics is a vicious tribal game of war, played out under the guise of our parliamentary system. One of Donald Trump’s campaign cries was “Drain the swamp”. We need to do some draining, too, of a systemic rule that is less dignified than “the swamp” in Washington.

We have two political mafias, which are legitimately elected to serve as our leaders.

The only way to curtail this game is through a real democracy that engages and empowers all the people as a shared responsibility, ending this see-saw reign by a privileged few.

A democracy seems tedious, slow and awkward, but it is the best thing and the only thing that can bring a sustainable future.

The parties will not opt for reform. However, the recent commitment by the Opposition leader to introduce a referendum initiated by citizens may be the break in the wall that is needed as an avenue to bring change.

We must wake up to this 21st century and truly become a humane, pluralist society that can have pride in itself.