The political silly season
It appears that the political’silly season’has already begun.
A general election must be called by May 2012, which is well over a year away, but in political campaign terms the election might as well be right around the corner.
Last week, the Progressive Liberal Party held an anniversary victory rally in the Elizabeth constituency–no doubt a teaser to the larger, more extravagant shows that in recent years have become synonymous with Bahamian elections.
The PLP also welcomed former National Development Party candidate Dr. Andre Rollins back into its fold with great pronouncement.
And the PLP, the Free National Movement and the National Development Party continued to trade insults and accusations over the sale of 51 percent of the Bahamas Telecommunications Company to Cable and Wireless.
The major parties seem to have already kicked into high gear, releasing a plethora of statements almost on a daily basis; the PLP has started ratifying candidates; and local politicians are using the internet in increasing numbers.
So far, the political landscape is showing all the usual trappings of an election campaign.
The politics of personal destruction reigns supreme in this political culture. And while it did not start yesterday and is not particular to The Bahamas, it’s a culture that a maturing electorate is growing tired of.
There are myriad issues facing our country, and the Bahamian people deserve to hear how each party plans to address these issues.
We saw a record-breaking murder count last year; our public education students continue to perform poorly; our healthcare system is stretched; and the illegal immigrationproblem is still largely out of control.
There is also the pressing issues of job creation to mop up the high unemployment rate.
It should not be good enough for a political party to reveal its strategy for the country in a’manifesto’or’plan’released days before the election.
Voters should have the opportunity to carefully consider what positions the different political parties take on substantive issues, within a reasonable time, before marking their X.
There is the obvious politicking that takes place over the course of the campaign, but local politicians need to spend less time on personal attacks and more time addressing the real issues.
It is time for a new type of politics, one that focuses on urgent national priorities rather than narrow interests, and one that helps to hold our elected officials more accountable for the many promises made from the rally podium.
Voters want politicians with ideas and energy, who have thought deeply about the issues and are committed to making a change for the better, even if it means making tough, unpopular decisions.