WE don’t often talk about love and politics in the same breath. Well, maybe if we are married to a politician but for most of us, the words politics and love are about as far apart as the Model T and Tesla.
Love and marriage symbolize intimate, close and personal ties and emotions. Politics feels distant, remote, something someone else does. Let’s be honest. You don’t do politics by candlelight. It’s a rough sport at best.
Even how we speak about love and politics is different. If there is a problem in romance, we keep it to ourselves. If we see what we even faintly perceive as a problem in politics, we jump into the arena, call radio stations, share our beliefs with anyone who will stand still long enough to listen to us rant. Ironic that we are most vocal about that which we have the least power to control.
We may lack control in some cases in marriage, but we feel powerless almost all the time in politics except in The Bahamas once every five years when we get to cast a vote for a single Member of Parliament. In between, our spouting and shouting compensate for our feelings of powerlessness.
Okay, those are the differences. Now for the similarities. Have you seen a woman whose husband cheated on her, who broke his promise to be faithful and got caught? No matter how fast he may be running or twisting his story, there is no wrath like that, as they say, of a woman scorned. He is going to pay the price. Now take the case of a political party that gets into office and breaks its promise. You don’t have a single woman scorned. You’ve got a whole population of tens of thousands of people, each of whom knows that no matter how loudly they carry on for four and a half years they only have one chance to make a real difference – when they cast that single vote.
Break enough promises or fail to keep the promises you make and you do not just jeopardise the sanctity of marriage, you risk losing an election.
Organization for Responsible Governance (ORG) Executive Director Matt Aubry has hit the ground running, reminding the governing FNM that they were swept into power with the promise of transparent, accountable governance. Deficiencies in governance, Aubry notes, “become more pronounced in times of stress such as we are going through now” and when we need the world to have confidence in and invest in The Bahamas, we are not doing enough, he says, to ensure we are all we say we want to be, transparent, accountable, above board.
In politics, as in marriage, broken promises are raw wounds and ORG is emerging as the non-partisan conscience of the body politic. It is the thorn in government’s side that has the potential to be its most fruitful blossom.
No one can blame this or any government for Dorian or for COVID, the two most horrendous blows to the social and economic well-being of the country in its history. Occurring so close to one another the impact of the first was still being felt by tens of thousands even as the second whopper hit, making the dual attempts at recovery even more challenging. I would never be bright or confident enough to suggest how the pandemic should have been or should be handled, except I do know wearing masks, social distancing and hand-washing work. That’s the full extent of my certain knowledge.
But I do know this - there are unfulfilled promises on which the governing party can still deliver. And people want to believe in promises. They deserve the right to benefit from an Integrity Commission, from Freedom of Information in action, from the office of an Ombudsman.
Matt Aubry reminds us of what others say, that The Bahamas is still perceived as a place where corruption has a home. The clock is ticking. And the voting populations of the next election will look a lot younger, better educated and with broader expectations than voters of a few decades ago.
People want to see what is in a Heads of Agreement. What concessions are being made? What tax relief? What Customs duties forgiven and what economic benefit does the project hold for Bahamian businesses, jobs and the economy directly and indirectly.
It is only when you hide something that distrust creeps in. It’s like the story of the man who left home every evening and didn’t tell his wife where he was going. She became increasingly concerned, then convinced he was seeing someone else. Weeks later, as he refused to tell her where he was going, her concern turned to fury and she hired a private investigator who followed the errant husband. He was going to a workshop where he was building a cabinet for the wife he loved. He wanted to surprise her with the handmade gift.
Withhold information and suspicion slithers in then roils and boils until it overflows. Maybe love and marriage and politics are not so disparate after all.
Small “eyes” and gestures can save lives
Kudos once more to the Free Town constituency and probably the Ministry of Works, this time for placing “cats’ eyes” along the side of the road from the western end of Eastern Road to Fox Hill Road which is now defined by the barrage of signs cluttering the intersection and intruding on the pristine nature of the foliage in the area. The green “eyes” marking driveways and intersections and red “eyes” marking the inner and outer sides of the lanes are a huge help in the darkness, but there is one area where the outside eyes are too far into the road so a standard size vehicle goes along at plop by plop by plop by plop, but at least its driver can see at night.
And congrats, too, to the Kemp Road Community Association and the young boy who gathered donations of 200 books for the first book stall I have seen in a very long time. Rotaract and Rotary clubs pitched in. It’s not all anger outside. There’s still a whole host of reason for hope.