By NICOLE BURROWS
IN their present form, they’re not ready yet. But if they become more polished and prepared, switch a few people around, research a few key matters to solidify their platform(s) and strengthen their foundation, the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) will be able to pull off a win in the next general election.
If they can put a party together in one or two years and affect an election outcome, they can do more than that in the two years ahead. They just need the right combination of people to do it.
If the election were tomorrow, the DNA would capture a large number of voters, as they did in 2012, but they wouldn’t win. They’re not ready to win, not simply because of the changes they need to make within their organisation but because the Bahamian people have to see a few more things unfold under the present Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) government, and watch, at the same time, how the Free National Movement (FNM) deals with those things.
Then they’ll truly be ready for something new and the DNA will be ready to give it. Timing is everything. In two years, Bahamians will be looking at a very different picture, which tells a very different story and could easily lead to a very different ending.
Shooting themselves in the foot, repeatedly, the PLP and the FNM continue to politicise every single social, economic and environmental issue. They are caught in a never-ending cycle of blame throwing. Leaders of both parties hurl insults in the others’ directions and lower themselves greatly by so doing.
Listening to Dr Hubert Minnis’ weekend comments about the Rubis oil leak and how it compares to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, I cringed – yet again. Really, Minnis? There is no comparison. Really, there is not. You speak of apples and potatoes, from the preventive measures, to the activity, to the resolution and widespread environmental impact.
The exposure of Bahamians in the Marathon area is horrible and inexcusable and I could never diminish the right to safety and good health of the people who live there – anywhere, for that matter. But Minnis is ridiculous with these sensational comments. I can only hope that perhaps he was trying to say that the Rubis oil leak is the closest thing the Bahamas has to the BP Gulf spill/explosion, but even then I don’t think anyone could confidently claim that as accurate.
After all, how do we really know these truths in a society where “covering up” is a handsomely-compensated way of life?
There are other occasions of fuel spillage which public attention is just now being drawn to, given that we have modern, tenacious environmental advocates who are relentless in their efforts. Many of these other incidents are likely to have occurred during the FNM’s administrations as well as the PLP’s. But representatives of both parties will refute that at every turn.
I don’t know who is worst of all: Minnis with his sensationalism, Kenred Dorsett with his apathy, Jerome Fitzgerald with his hesitation or Bradley Roberts with his mudslinging. But this is what they do; shenanigans. The blame game will be played until neither one of these parties no longer exists, which couldn’t be soon enough. Their prevailing methods are too old school to form a fully functional and progressive Bahamian society and Bahamians are rapidly recognising that. They should be the Restricted Exclusive Movement and the Regressive Illiberal Party, as they are neither freely national nor progressively liberal in their approach or discourse.
The DNA makes similar public outcry on national issues, too often also of a reactionary nature, but not in the ancient ways of the FNM or PLP. But the latter won’t accept it until the ‘X’ gets marked next to the former.
All the Bahamians who are tired of and disgusted with the many failings of current and former administrations, which appear to be unchanging and which remain central to political platforms even today … all the Bahamians who think they’re in the middle class but are actually poor … all the young people who feel like they can’t go anywhere or be anything unless they get out of the Bahamas … all of them know that the only options they have are 1) change the status quo by changing the typical government model, or 2) leave the country for a better life elsewhere.
Those who cannot leave have no choice but to do what they can to change the look of government, because the only way for there to be anything done differently is to drastically alter the political landscape in the country.
As a new party in government, for the very first time, the DNA would have a lot riding on its first term in office. There will be pressure to perform like never before. The big racial issue of the 1960s is not today what it was then, and now many other issues have been added to the pot.
The DNA will have to come out stronger than the first Pindling-led PLP, swinging left and right and not missing a beat or a mark. With this kind of pressure mounted against them, they will be far less comfortable than any government since our country’s divorce from Britain, and since pressure refines a newer diamond more than an older one, the DNA would more naturally perform at the highest possible level.
Unlike the present Prime Minister, who obviously thinks things must always take forever to be accomplished, the DNA is comprised of fast movers, and that, like it or not, is what you need for real action to happen. Rome may not have been built in a day, but it didn’t need more than one day to fall; there is no luxury of time to bring long-term resolution to the nation’s afflictions. It’s a new way of thinking … a shift in ideology … that’s required to get out of the purgatory we’re in.
Most first-time voters in 2017 will be ideologically detached from both the PLP and the FNM. They are comprised mostly of new Millenials and Generation Y, and the deeply disenfranchised, exhausted Generation X. And the DNA already has the bulk of them in their following.
In keeping with the Generation X and Y theme, the DNA is well-versed in how, where, and when to reach them. The party and the people it wants most to reach out to are technologically savvy, with their fingers on the pulse of modern communications and business. They run circles around the leadership and body of the PLP and FNM parties. And if they continue to weave these circles intricately, the FNM and/or the PLP will go the way of the dinosaurs.
Also on their side, the DNA has a sizeable chunk of influential female voters and the numbers continue to grow, especially when the other two parties continue to demonstrate why neither one of them sincerely supports the interests, freedoms and welfare of women in 2015.
Finally, the leadership of the DNA consists of businesswomen and businessmen, with a sprinkling of lawyers, whereas the PLP and FNM are the reverse - they’re littered with attorneys (and attorneys’ friends) who have become business people courtesy of the public treasury.
That perception alone, that politicians take Bahamian people for fools who can’t see through the BS, in the current climate of Bahamian dissatisfaction with political leaders is enough to make a DNA win in 2017 more than conceivable.
How money defines immigrants and expatriates
At the close of last week, European Union countries agreed to send more rescue teams to the Mediterranean Sea in an effort to stem the influx of migrants from North Africa into mainland Italy, via Sicily, Sardinia, and Lampedusa. Some news reports suggest that EU authorities intend to focus on capturing smugglers and their vessels in order to prevent them from getting migrants on their boats in the first place.
I keep looking at the images of these desperate people, who are coming from a wasteland to be dropped off into some sub-community to live and work where living and working is better than what they left, but not so good in and of itself.
I can’t imagine how much they hurt, not just from hunger or physical pain or need, but from the emotional anguish of what they were to what they have become.
And I think about the difference between them and the many immigrants to America, arriving on large ships via Ellis Island, from an assortment of countries.
Somehow the migrants in those early American images never seemed as desperate at the ones plastered all over my TV screen for the last several months.
I look at them and I know that, as tough as my life is now, there is no way in the world I would want to trade places with them. And as I watch the rescuers helping migrants from the ocean and off the pieces of boat in the water, some rescuers dressed in full “hazmat” gear, I wonder what’s going through their minds.
For some of them, they are probably deeply moved and are proud to be able to help their fellow human beings. For others, it is their job and they have no choice in the matter.
But I wonder, too: how many of the rescuers would give up their own homes or residences, or any part of their lives, really, for one or more migrants? How many of them would be willing to trade places or possessions if that’s what it took to rescue them? How many would open their homes, literally, if that’s what it took to give these people a new start? How many humanitarians would do this?
I would be lying if I said I would. Am I wrong to feel that way? Especially given that my own father was an immigrant?
The biggest difference between my father the immigrant and the immigrants being rescued in the Mediterranean is that my father was leaving the first world to come to the third world and he wasn’t forced out of his home. He wasn’t homeless and he wasn’t starving.
He was a citizen of the world and wanted to see and experience the world. He arrived with a special skill and documents in hand permitting him to be here. And he stayed and worked in his industry until he became a resident. In Bahamian dialogue, he would have been called an expat (expatriate).
I recently came across an article that posed the question about the difference between immigrants and expatriates. I don’t know if the article answered the question, as, admittedly, I didn’t read it, though the title stayed in my memory.
The difference, as I perceive it, is that an immigrant, especially an illegal or undocumented one, seeking refuge or asylum, might not be reading this article right now, whereas an expatriate might be.
Because our world is the way it is, an immigrant is concerned first with survival, then achievement. And because wealth creates class and class historically divides people by race, with the masses of poor being ethnic peoples, immigrants are more often melanin-rich, whereas expatriates are more often melanin-poor.
In short, money is what makes for the difference between immigrants and expatriates. And money, to this day, ceteris paribus, dictates the lesser fate of the immigrants and the loftier fate of the expatriates.
You needn’t look far to see this.