Monday, Jul 6, 2020
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Idle political rhetoric

We wonder to what extent Bahamians read stories in the newspapers when they see Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) leaders as the focus.

The PLPs trio of leaders, Philip Brave Davis (leader), Chester Cooper (deputy leader), and Fred Mitchell (chairman), are the most gabby leader-deputy-chairman combo in Bahamian political history.

Everyday they either release a statement or statements about something, or there’s a press conference, or they are courting reporters to write a story on one of their reflections.

Some interventions are reasonable and policy related. Many, though, are just to be in the newspapers. Little thought is put in. Just say something, get a headline and move on to the next day.

The opposition is supposed to hold the governing party’s to account. It’s supposed to ask questions and scrutinize. But far too many PLP interventions are without deep reflection.

One such idle PLP criticism regarded the prime minister speaking at a church.

On the second anniversary of the Free National Movement (FNM) election win on May 10, 2017, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis addressed party members and supporters at Cousin McPhee Cathedral AME Church.

Minnis defended his government’s record. He championed their successes.

The part of his address the PLP did not like went to what the prime minister clearly thinks is the nature of the opposition party.

“For a quarter century the PLP ruled under a cult of personality, a sense of entitlement, and mass corruption and widespread victimization,” he said.

“They kept rigid control of the broadcast media so they could spew their propaganda and limit our freedom of expression.
“Then as now, they believe that the rule of law does not apply to them. They believe they can engage in corruption without consequence.”

This is not a new theme for an FNM leader. Hubert Ingraham took down the Pindling regime in 1992 on the issue of corruption.
By the end, the government of Sir Lynden Pindling disgraced The Bahamas. The drug scandal of the 1980s focused the eyes of the world on our country. Under Pindling’s PLP administration, Norman’s Cay, an island of The Bahamas, became a major transshipment point for drugs entering the United States.

In response to Minnis’ harsh critique of the party, Leader of the Opposition Philip Brave Davis went in a strange direction. He said political parties should not use the church as a venue to attack other parties.

“I mean the church is the church and when we are in a church the secular issues are only addressed in the context of our biblical teachings and it is not to use to promote one’s party or to diminish another party in the context of the spiritual realm,” Davis said.

We wonder if Davis laughed internally as he said this.

The PLP from its early days used the church in its movement to power. Pindling acted as, and loved being considered, the Black Moses.

PLP leaders for decades have campaigned in churches, using the large audiences to communicate their messages. Pindling never saw a church pulpit he didn’t like. Churches were probably Perry Christie’s favorite venue to “campaign” in, too. He even had his favorite parts of scripture he would repeat over and over again every time he spoke. His routine was so familiar those in the audience knew what was coming next.

No party could outdo the PLP when it comes to politicizing churches. That’s part of the organization’s history and culture.
Older Bahamians who watched the PLP over the years know how ridiculous it is for a PLP leader to criticize any politician for politicizing a church.

This PLP opposition is at its best when it makes sensible interventions. It’s good for the PLP to challenge the government over its marijuana policy; the retirement of senior police officers; missing its budget revenue forecast; whether or not it should have bought Grand Lucayan. These are matters of governance that affect the lives of Bahamians and the direction of our country.
Talking about who said what in a church is useless political rhetoric.

This PLP would do better to exhale and relax a bit. We are three years away from a general election. We are not in election season. Fewer, more meaningful statements from the opposition would be better strategy. Reflect first, then intervene. The people might stop listening because the party is talking too much and at times without substance.

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