THE time has come, Bahamas.
Today, we make a choice. It is a difficult choice, but it is one which will guide the years ahead in our country.
At the end of the vote, we will see either Dr Hubert Minnis continue as Prime Minister, or Philip “Brave” Davis take up the mantle.
There are of course other parties on the ballot, but realistically it will come down to either the FNM or the PLP to form the next government.
Both parties come loaded with problems. We would be wrong not to ignore that.
For the FNM, the party failed to fulfil promises it made ahead of the last election – most notably on issues such as campaign reforms, term limits and fixed dates for elections.
It had a huge majority in Parliament, and yet it failed to hit its targets.
For those who went through the horrors of Hurricane Dorian, many feel they were left to fend for themselves, and have struggled to get enough support in the aftermath. Even Dr Minnis this week acknowledged that the government fell short.
Then there is the failure to complete the sale of the Grand Lucayan, or the farce that was the Oban Energies deal with seemingly little to no due diligence carried out.
At the courts, the government has suffered a host of defeats, with PLP politicians walking free after being accused of corruption, and Attorney General Carl Bethel hardly seeming able to find a win while facing a number of immigration cases.
That’s the scorecard for the government in power – now what about those who would seek to replace them?
This is no new PLP, this is a party filled with the same faces that were unceremoniously thrown from power in the last election in a landslide that left them clinging to just a few seats in the House, and just one seat in the whole of New Providence.
Mr Davis was the Deputy Prime Minister for that party’s previous term in office, the party chairman, Fred Mitchell, was the Foreign Secretary.
Neither has significantly attempted to distance themselves from the administration led by former Prime Minister Perry Christie, who himself has praised the campaign of Mr Davis, saying he would “be in the process of recognising that Brave Davis is the next Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.”
So if you voted out the old PLP, this is largely the same party, complete with the seal of approval of its former leader. It was an administration that faced scandals, a failed referendum, the Rubis gas leak saga and more.
It’s also a party whose ghosts may soon return to haunt it – with a high-profile court case, that of Peter Nygard, moving ever closer. All manner of allegations surrounding that case will be heard in open court if that proceeds as expected, and a new government may have to give answers to some very uncomfortable claims.
We cannot pretend we do not know what each of these parties bring to the table – we have seen it all before.
Then there are the issues that we know the winner of this vote will have to face.
On one hand, there is the prospect of tax changes. Mr Davis stirred up the waters this week, suggesting that Dr Minnis will raise taxes if re-elected, but frankly Mr Davis hasn’t looked like offering a convincing solution to a soaring deficit, a massive debt and a tourism market that hasn’t returned in full force yet. Taxes will be an issue for whichever party wins, and to point the finger and pretend it won’t be an issue for you is disingenuous at best.
And then there is the biggest problem for any incoming government – the ongoing battle against COVID.
We know the FNM solution, we have been living through it. At every turn, the PLP has criticised the restrictions imposed by the FNM, while touting free testing as its main weapon in the fight.
Which party will contain the virus best? Who will stop the spread, and who will convince people to get vaccinated, which is the key to stopping the deaths, and minimising the infection?
Is a strict lockdown the way forward, or a more open approach?
These are the choices we face when we mark our X today. So consider carefully.
In politics, we often hope perhaps for the perfect leader, but seldom is that who we get to vote for. Today we must choose the best option, or if you’re feeling particularly frustrated, the least worst option.
But it does matter. So use your vote. And pick the path we will take.