IT is a rare thing in politics to be able to please all of the country – but if ever there was a statement seemingly designed to annoy everyone it was the one made by FNM chairman Carl Culmer.
Hundreds of Bahamians took the time to march in protest on Wednesday last week to express their concerns about the state of the nation.
The message was perhaps not as focused as it could be – complaints ranged from high electricity bills, unemployment through to general dissatisfaction with Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis. That said, when hundreds of people march in protest, they deserve at least to be listened to.
In dismissing the march with the words “Much like the PLP, the march was a complete failure”, Mr Culmer does nothing but reinforce the image of a government that is arrogant, doesn’t understand and won’t listen.
Does that image match the government’s actual performance? Perhaps. Perhaps not. But playing down the concerns of so many does nothing to ease such worries. It does nothing to show the government really will listen to what people have to say.
Oddly enough, one person Culmer should perhaps be listening to is one of his party’s own senators. In pointing out that the PLP have little virtue to boast about from joining in Wednesday’s march when they struggled to listen to the participants of the “We March” protest during their own term, Jamal Moss is showing the awareness that Culmer seems to lack.
The lesson for Culmer to draw, however, is not to dismiss the march – but to understand that in not listening to those who took part in the “We March” protest, the PLP added another nail to their political coffin.
If there’s one thing more than anything else that the people have grown tired of, it’s the trading of political insults and pointing the finger of blame at the opposite side.
When people want answers over the high cost of electricity, they don’t want someone to point the finger and say “Blame dem”.
When people want an explanation for the deficit already being $105m higher than predicted just over five months ago, they deserve better than the Deputy Prime Minister promising accountability later rather than now.
When the Prime Minister promises a review of rescue operations in the aftermath of the crash that left pilot Byron Ferguson missing, people are entitled to point out that he also promised a review of the BPL board collapse and there has been little sign of that happening.
When the much-touted Oban deal now seems to be much forgotten about and no one seems to be forthcoming about it, people are entitled to ask if the government really did its due diligence in that matter – and whether they are doing so in other deals.
If instead the government chooses to dismiss the concerns of the people, they should not be surprised if the people chooses to dismiss the government.
That is the lesson that Mr Culmer should learn from previous protest marches – and if he or his comrades don’t listen, then he is opening the door for someone who does.
And that, we think, is what the people ultimately want – politicians who listen, who give straight answers and who can at last deliver the change so many in this country need.