Wednesday, Oct 23, 2019
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Now is the time for a third party

Dear Editor,

Traditionally, a third political party has not fared well in elections. Bahamians, while generally tired of the current political offerings, are reluctant to vote for a new party and prefer to use their votes against the governing party. It is this act that has accounted for the see-saw effect we have witnessed in our election cycles. In truth, the PLP and FNM do not really have any core values that differentiate them from each other to entice votes. Their ultimate goal is to win by pandering to the electorate by enlarging the social welfare net.

Previous third parties have failed because they generally find fault with the governing party and talk about ideas for prompting change and not much more. The truth is, Bahamians are generally not interested in ideas and political philosophy, they simply want to feel that their lives will get better. Which is why I cannot understand why no aspiring third parties have sought to start a grassroots movement that taps into and harnesses the anger and frustration the electorate has against the ruling class. Bahamians are angry about immigration, the failure of education and the perceived lack of well-paying jobs. Bahamians are angry about feeling like second-class citizens in their own country. Bahamians are angry at the perceived corruption and wanton government waste that takes place in this country. Bahamians are tired of government officials globe-trotting on the public dime while the increasing standard of living makes it difficult for ordinary people to survive. People are tired of watching a few grow increasingly wealthy and influential over government policies while they have to wait weeks or months to receive NIB sick benefits.

The people must believe the leader of a party is one of them and identifies with their struggle. While leaders of political parties may talk about issues affecting Bahamians, they often seem aloof, detached from the reality the average Bahamian struggles with. This makes them unbelievable and unenticing to a frustrated electorate; these were the core issues with the Coalition for Democratic Reform (CDR) and the Democratic National Alliance (DNA). The solution is for a new party to have a leader that can concisely articulate the frustrations of the people and put forth a realistic plan to address the issues. Next, they must be prepared to do the dirty work of actually getting involved in the door-to-door ground work in communities, while using social media to leverage popular sentiment, talk up for the small man while organizing essential small donor fund-raising events.

Based on the current two party options, a well-organized grassroots political movement, with respectable leadership and candidate options, could create a much bigger impression than most might think. After all, the numbers of diehard supporters of the PLP and FNM are dying out, while the number of swing voters increases each election cycle. If the We March movement decided to become political and stayed the course, it might have made a much bigger impression on the 2017 election results than the DNA did!

JB

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