Misreading the tea leaves 

Dear Editor,

What do the Democratic National Alliance (DNA), The People’s Movement, Bahamas National Coalition Party, Bahamas Democratic Movement, Bahamas Constitution Party, Vanguard Nationalist and Socialist Party, Workers’ Party and the Coalition for Democratic Reform all have in common?

They’re all fringe political parties that have all failed miserably to make a significant difference on the political landscape of The Bahamas, unlike the Free National Movement (FNM) and the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) — the two political dinosaurs that have staying power, like the Democratic Party and Republican Party in the United States.

With the political pendulum swinging between the FNM and PLP each election cycle since 1997, this has reinforced the age-old consensus that The Bahamas is a two-party state.

Since 2012, with the popularization of Facebook and other social media platforms, there appears to be a new Facebook political superstar who arises to challenge the political establishment in the lead-up to the silly season, while mesmerizing the Bahamian population in the process like a suave snake-oil salesman.

In the lead-up to the 2017 general election, it was We March Bahamas lead organizer Ranard Henfield, who was appointed to the Senate by the FNM government.

Since his appointment, We March Bahamas seems to have dissolved. The activist organization held several mass demonstrations throughout New Providence, drawing thousands of irate Bahamians who were unhappy with the PLP administration of former Prime Minister Perry G. Christie.

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis wooing Henfield into the fold of the FNM was a strategic move, which effectively neutralized We March Bahamas. That was in 2017 — a lifetime in Bahamian political years.

Fast forward to 2021. We are currently witnessing the meteoric rise of another Facebook political superstar: Lincoln Bain of Bahamian Evolution.

On January 11 — one day after Majority Rule Day, Eyewitness News alleged that Bain was in custody. This development made the rounds on Facebook, giving the impression that Bain is a political martyr suffering under the heavy hand of the Minnis administration and PLP operatives.

Bahamian Evolution representatives are convinced that Bain’s well-timed arrest was aimed at preventing a planned demonstration or rally that was scheduled by the outspoken political activist.

I was not at all surprised when Bain announced that he would be fielding 39 independent candidates to contest the upcoming 2022 general election. My only shock was that he took this long in making the announcement.

Bahamians saw this announcement coming miles away. Bear in mind that Bain was nominated by the DNA in Pinewood in January 2017. Bain managed to get just 380 votes. It wouldn’t surprise me if Bain amalgamated his organization with the PLP.

I have noticed that his criticism of the PLP is moderate, when compared to his criticism of the Minnis administration.

This is a telltale sign that Bain is at least keeping the door open to joining the PLP, his only realistic shot at becoming a member of Parliament in 2022.

I would hope that Bain is not reckoning the tens of thousands of views, likes and shares of his Facebook videos as votes on Election Day.

Bain is popular because his message of The Bahamas having a sovereign wealth fund like the United Arab Emirates and Norway has captivated thousands of Bahamians who are struggling financially.

Being told that oil reserves in The Bahamas, if found, would transform each Bahamian citizen into instant millionaires, sounds like a pipe dream worth having.

Bahamians are tired of living from hand to mouth. They’re tired of paying upward of $350,000 on low-cost three-bedroom houses built at a cost of $40,000 by the opportunistic Canadian banks that charge Canadians less than six percent interest rates on mortgage loans.

Bain comes along and tells the Bahamian masses exactly what they want to hear.

To Bain and Co., never mind the noise in the market. Bahamians are a funny set of people.

They will urge these young, aspiring activists to challenge the two political giants at the polls, and then turn around and vote FNM and PLP on Election Day, while the popular activists fail to recoup their hard-earned $400 election deposits.

In the event Bain and Bahamian Evolution officials misread the tea leaves by staying the course as independent candidates, they will see just how deeply entrenched our two-party political system is in 2022.

Kevin Evans

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