How to lose the support of the people

There are two main takeaways from last week’s general election: the Progressive Liberal Party’s (PLP) resurgence to power and the Free National Movement’s (FNM) meteoric fall from grace.

The FNM got close to 100,000 votes in the last general election.

However, it lost around 44,000 votes since the last national poll.

Meantime, the PLP has gained a supermajority by adding only about 7,000 votes since the last election.

As with former Prime Minister Perry Christie, it did not matter who was on top of the major opposition party’s ticket; this election was about getting rid of then-Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis.

The FNM must now come to grips with why it lost the government.

The party has started that process, but we can assist with some hard truths they should acknowledge and seek never to let happen again.

We would caution them that shallow and emotional reactions are useless in the long run.

The FNM has a tremendous opportunity to rebound and become stronger for its loss.

It would be ill-advised for FNMs to wrap themselves in their feelings.

A considered view of where the party went wrong would be more useful.

The FNM came to office claiming humility, honesty, service to the people and transparency would be the order of the day.

Instead, its members mostly draped themselves in vanity, giddy off a huge win, antagonizing the media and distancing themselves from supporters and creating non-supporters.

Politics is about adding to your support.

Hypocrisy is a good way to lose political support.

As a matter of political survival, do not tell people taxation is the lazy way out in opposition and then increase taxes when you ascend to power.

Politics is about multiplying goodwill.

Not being credible is a sure way to divide it.

Marching downtown, then promising in your manifesto there would be the implementation of an office of an ombudsman, a fixed-term limit for prime ministers, a fixed election date, local government for New Providence, integrity legislation, then abandoning those things causes people to doubt that you are honorable enough to keep your promises.

The man who can walk with kings but still keep the common touch is one who engenders himself to the people.

A man who comes into office talking about bare treasury cupboards while putting the Bahamian people “on notice” that you are going raise the salaries of parliamentarians insults the people.

The allegations surrounding the award of contracts by the Water and Sewerage Corporation and the Ministry of Works did not necessarily have to sink the Minnis administration, but the pompous manner in which those questions were ignored most certainly helped bring the party down.

A government does not have to lose power because it did not do many good things,  but it can easily lose power if the bad things that happened overwhelm the public’s sense of propriety.

When you get up on a rally stage after years of the people of Abaco and Grand Bahama crying for more attention after Hurricane Dorian devastated them, and tell them they will never get the donation money if the PLP is elected to office it is an insulting slap in the face that no prime minister should again stoop low enough to utter.

Had the FNM simply stayed on the ground there and treated people with dignity and regard, as opposed to the central government abandoning them then coming back to tell them you did your best, the defeat may have been less acute.

As opposed to bringing people together by accepting the support of former Prime Minister Ingraham and former Prime Minister Perry Christie after they toured the damage from the storm, the FNM shunned the former prime ministers, discarding them like trash, further winnowing national support.

And then came the pandemic, which put Minnis and the FNM’s arrogance and lack of empathy at center stage for months on end.

The former prime minister’s condescension and his irresponsibly petty acceptance of former Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands’ resignation in the middle of the pandemic are just two examples of his blistering incapacity to govern beyond his own ego, though one could write a book on the FNM’s failings.

The FNM should use the last administration as a cautionary tale.

When you say it’s the people’s time, do not ignore the people when they tell you they are unhappy.

When Cabinet ministers see a prime minister acting errantly, rein him in around the Cabinet table.

We are hopeful the PLP will learn from the FNM’s lesson as well.

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