When The Royal Gazette contacted me last week regarding commentary on the election campaign I figured sure, I can provide some filler content on a slow news day. I threw something together based upon my earlier post (Bermuda Election 2017: Big on slogans, short on solutions) and submitted it on Thursday. Nowhere in my wildest imagination did I expect to be featured on the front page, referred to as some sort of expert while overshadowing the OBA’s election platform announcement. To be honest I am wholly taken aback. I am certainly by no means an expert and am just someone on the sidelines commentating on the match. It is shocking to consider what the implications are when the editor thinks the ramblings of a no-name blogger about our broken political system are more interesting than the OBA’s platform? The thought is perplexing.
The overarching concern that I tried to express in my comments is that our political system no longer serves the people because politicians are discouraged from pursuing real reform. All indications are thus far that both parties are wholly unprepared for this election, lack tangible solutions and are afraid of the people. Instead of working with the people they try to be as vague as possible in the run up to the election and at the last minute make some big unsubstantiated promises to try to win support. It’s a recurring theme that is getting worse with each election. In the meantime, many people who could participate stay on the sidelines as our political system renders a 3rd party or independent candidates impossible.
People seem to forget that in the run up to the 2012 election the OBA wasn’t geared up to win by a landslide, it was a very close race. They produced a platform which presented a feel good promise of inclusiveness but lacked real substance, real measurable deliverables. When the OBA realized it wasn’t going to win them the election they trotted out the promise that they would deliver 2000 jobs. It wasn’t qualified what they meant by it but it is what the people wanted to hear and tipped the election in their favor. The OBA didn’t explain that things like Americas Cup, the airport deal and pathways to status were the price to be paid to create jobs. Once the election was over people didn’t want to hear it, 2000 magical jobs were promised with no expectation of sacrifice. The OBA in the end are paying the price for not having set expectations and failing to deliver.
People also forget that the 2007 election was the same in favor of the PLP. It was pre-recession, the economy was overheating and people were being priced out of living in Bermuda. The PLP weren’t set to win the election by a landslide. So, 10 days before the election, they rolled out a platform littered with the word free. Free day care. Free public transport. Interest free loans. Free Bermuda college. Free computers and dental coverage for seniors. Nothing in life is free. What we discovered was that not only were most of these promises not feasible, it was the taxpayer that was footing this bill in the form of millions in deficits and billions in debt.
This is ultimately the problem. We want our politicians to do the impossible, fix things without changing anything or us having to make any sacrifices. They sell us on grand unrealistic promises at the last minute and this is what we vote for. We don’t want real reform. We lament that capable people sit on the sidelines and don’t get involved but we don’t want to demand any kind of real change to enable them. Our two party system ensures that independents or are third party simply aren’t viable. We won’t see real change until we can convince our politicians that they won’t get elected until they reform our political system to make other parties and independents viable. The problem is, politicians will never pledge to give up power unless they think it is the only way they can win the election. Perhaps we can convince one of the parties that this year’s last minute pledge to tip the scales should be realistic political reform.