Before the close of the last decade, we spoke in this space about the indispensable role unity plays in the progress of this and any nation; a truism also highlighted in this week’s National Review.
At a time when the nation is still very much in the throws of recovery from an historic and deadly natural disaster, and where record debt levels with limited avenues for increased debt servicing are putting unprecedented pressure on taxpayers and government, the need for Bahamians to come together and work together cannot be overstated.
Having prematurely sent the country into campaign mode, the government has undermined prospects for national unity that it either failed to appreciate, or chose to devalue in pursuit of its political objectives.
Though more and more Bahamians are awakening to the reality that rabid partisanship damages our ability to build a strong nation, political support and the real and perceived benefits thereof are still primary drivers of some of the more destructive actions Bahamians undertake against one another.
Once many Bahamians switch their consciousness to campaign mode, they begin to move away from each other and toward their various political factions where positions become hardened, reason gives way to emotion and humanity takes a back seat to political expediency.
Division is its name.
This reality could not be more dangerous for the thousands of Bahamians and residents left destitute following Hurricane Dorian, who now more than ever need their fellow man to see them as an equal in need of compassion and assistance, and not as a red or yellow storm victim.
Now that the work of most foreign NGOs has either ended or has transitioned into a less intensive phase of response, Bahamians will need to take their place and fill the gap — a task that becomes unnecessarily complicated by a highly charged political climate sparked well ahead of an anticipated election year.
Fired up political agendas and ambitions have the potential to do nothing but further complicate an already slow and disjointed storm response by government, subjecting victims to either precipitous overreaches by government officials, or calculated re-directions of effort to stave off potential gains by political opponents.
With record borrowing, hundreds of millions in revenue losses and economic contraction as the country’s current fiscal landscape, an untimely switch to campaign mode brings with it the risk of government making imprudent public expenditure decisions it thinks will look good on a campaign resume, but that can obliterate current budgetary projections.
The malapropos method employed by this administration in lurching the country into an early campaign mode raises concern about whether it will hold fast to its stated fiscal strategies or whether a run on the public treasury in the run up to the 2022 election will become a hallmark of its term in office.
In the national interest, Bahamians meantime must be quick to speak out against and repudiate any and all campaign rhetoric that has the potential to spur rancor or incite aggression and violence.
Many things are said from rally podiums and impromptu campaign stumps, much of which is often taken as mere politicking and entertainment aimed at rallying one’s base and potential supporters.
But what Bahamians must always keep in mind is that what a word or turn of phrase may mean to one person might not hold true for another.
And behind seemingly innocuous statements can lie subliminal messages that those to whom they are directed take as marching orders to carry out against political opponents.
Politics by its very nature creates disagreements and divisions and campaign season is the proverbial breeding ground for both, which is why the timing and execution of the same should always be with the country’s best interests in mind.
Regardless of who wins or loses on Election Day, there is still a country of hundreds of thousands that is left to manage and build.
Those who truly care about what kind of country will be left walk and govern by the guiding principle that the ends do not always justify the means.