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Seeking Penance Or Change

By RUPERT MISSICK, Jr

IN attrition warfare an army attempts to destroy its enemy by grinding down their opponent with superior numbers, hoping to obtain victory through the absolute devastation of their enemy’s resources.

Most intelligent military strategists believe that this tactic is one to be avoided at all costs. Because of what happens when the two armies are matched or nearly equal in strength. They squander the resources of not only their respective armed forces, but their nation as well by having to constantly replace the personnel and equipment lost on the battlefield.

Sun Tzu in his classic military treatise “The Art of War” decries prolonged conflicts where the resources of the state go into funding long wars and said in a nutshell that 100 victories over 100 battles could never replace the benefits of obtaining a decisive victory in a minimal amount of time.

Of the many attrition wars being fought in the Bahamas today there is one that is now more than a decade old. It The FNM seems to be unable to come to terms with the fact that the main driver for the proposed referendum on the Constitution will not only be the PLP, but a PLP under Perry Christie.

FNM chairman Darron Cash said recently that the reason the country failed the first time was largely because of Prime Minister’s Perry Christie’s “finger in the wind” approach to reform. This is a very kind and un-cynical way to view Mr Christie’s 2002 opposition to Constitutional reform.

A simpler and possibly truer explanation is that after smelling blood in the water left there by the FNM’s poorly constructed PR campaign and pushed by a party desperate to emerge from their ten years in the wilderness, Mr Christie led a strong and successful campaign which prevented the Bahamas emerging from the dark ages all for the sake of political expediency.

Considering the fact that as the then Leader of the Opposition Mr Christie voted in favour of all the bills in Parliament relating to the 2002 referendum and then went outside of the House of Assembly and took a different position, one could see why Mr Cash claims that some Bahamians and FNMs in particular have not forgotten this “duplicity”.

“(FNMs see) Mr Christie’s move as a purely crass political move. Feelings of betrayal still loom large,” Mr Cash said.

One could not be blamed for dismissing the outrage of a political party lamenting a betrayal by their political rivals, but when one considers that the issue of citizenship and gender equality has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with the lives of real people, one can share in the opposition party’s bitterness.

Most often the issue becomes a personal one and it is personal to even some of those in the leadership of the opposition party.

Even though she was not in front-line politics when the FNM’s referendum campaign began in 2001, Deputy Leader of the FNM Loretta Butler-Turner said that she was very involved in the party’s efforts to convince the electorate to make the changes.

“I realised that my daughter can be put in the same position other people’s daughters are in so when I took that argument from island to island with the FNM, I felt that if there was one question that could stand the test it would be bringing equality to women of the Bahamas,” she said.

This “injustice” has been visited on her family as well and now Mrs Butler-Turner’s niece, and the great-granddaughter of one of the nation’s founding fathers, Sir Milo Butler, has to enter the Bahamas on a visitor’s visa.

“This is my sister’s daughter, a woman with a Bahamian mother. It doesn’t just have to reach home for me, we have thousands of Bahamians who are unable to come and contribute to build our society because of this injustice,” Mrs Butler-Turner said.

Mr Cash said that if the prime minister proposes to come forward with new constitutional referenda, Mr Christie will have to do a lot of work to heal old wounds.

“In that regard the PM is lucky that Hubert Minnis is the leader of the FNM,” Mr Cash said.

Perhaps Mr Cash is suggesting that Dr Minnis would be inclined to be more forgiving than his predecessor Hubert Ingraham in this matter. Let’s hope so. This issue is too important for us to watch another decade pass as our political class play a game of knife in the back.

The FNM must resist the temptation of wanting some penance from the PLP for the injuries they suffered in 2002 before they lend their support to this Constitutional change. Waiting to correct a mistake only after the person who made it realises the mistake they made is a painfully pointless endeavour. This added to the fact that Mr Christie has a dazzling talent for redefining success it would be a long time before the party and the Bahamian people get that mea culpa from the governing party they so rightly deserve.

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