Is democracy collapsing?

The following was published as a letter to the editor in today’s The Royal Gazette newpaper

Historian Lord Acton once wrote “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Is it not growing clear that our rulers are already corrupted by the power they wield? All while they make calls to independence being the only solution to empowering our people? Is it not growing evidently clear that the only thing our rulers hope to do is further empower themselves?

Lord Acton also wrote “Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end”. The very foundation of democracy is based upon the concepts of liberty, freedom from oppression and the end to such atrocities as slavery. Where all men and women are recognized as created equal and every person is afforded the right of association, freedom of religion, freedom of opinion and most importantly freedom of speech.

Are we witnessing the collapse of democracy on our great island? Has our government become so intoxicated by their own thirst for power that they have not only have forgotten about the basic needs of you and me but have also risen to silence and condemn any who choose to disagree?

Who remembers whistle blower Gabriel Martel? The unsung hero who raised the alarm about the state of the Berkeley school project — the very project that our government would have sooner sacrificed the welfare of our children then come clean with the truth.

What about Auditor General Larry Dennis, who’s office was ‘conveniently relocated’ when he was critical that $800 million of public funds could not be readily audited? That is our money and if you note our latest budget statement, in many cases it’s details for the last years actual numbers are conveniently left out.

We have witnessed the ousting of a Head Chef for an admittedly tasteless joke, a Doctor for speaking out against the closure of a clinic that many believe helped poor Bermudians, and a construction site foreman who failed to give an MP respect when he did not know whom he was addressing and was the target of blatantly racist remarks.

Most recently, we read of the case where CedarBridge Academy educator Ulama Finn-Hendrickson, who has not been paid nor acknowledged by our government and been forced to take off of work due to illness resulting from CedarBridge’s mould infestation. The very mould that our government knew about since early summer and was more willing to put our children at risk rather then do the honourable thing. How can our politicians be emblazoned with the title ‘honourable’ when clearly honour does not come into play.

Have we allowed our government to become so intoxicated with such power that they have stepped beyond the bounds of what is reasonable? How quickly has our government rushed to approve special development orders that sidestep the appropriate planning processes. The very processes that ensure we don’t have code violations and mass safety hazards like at Berkeley?

Only months ago ‘Sustainable Development’ was the grand idea that would save Bermuda. Before this it was ‘Empowerment’. Tell me who is empowered now? How about ‘Independence’ where more then those who voted for the PLP last election were played the fool for signing a petition demanding that the question of independence be rightfully put to the people. Did our current premier not stand next to our previous one when every citizen who signed that petition were insulted? Do you fail to see that we are being denied the right to choose our own destiny?

Despite claims that democracy on our great island is alive in well, in truth it is in tatters. Look around; our people are no more empowered then they were 9 years ago. Our politicians have rushed to take care of their own first and only do what is in our interests when election time is near by throwing money at issues that will buy votes.

It is time we started demanding more from our politicians. There should be accountability for missing funds and laws that empower and protect the people from government abuses not the other way around. It is time our politicians gave us the respect we deserve. We should be demanding true, fair and open democracy not some false façade – a Bermuda where public access to information is a reality, not an idle election promise, where freedom of speech and freedom of choice reign king above any man.

A Bermuda where all Bermudians live in a land of liberty and just government.

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