Working for the success of Bermuda

Jean Atherden, the new leader of the OBA (Photograph supplied)

The One Bermuda Alliance leadership challenge, which came to its conclusion on Saturday with the election of Jean Atherden, failed to generate the type of interest that would signal enthusiasm. Perhaps because the prospects are too familiar and, without the roar of an inspired crowd watching as a prize gladiator enters the Coliseum, it becomes somewhat a soft applause.

At the moment, the formidable landslide secured by the Progressive Labour Party on July 18 is still settling in, with the new government looking to embolden its victory at the polls by flexing its new-found political muscle.

Thinking forward, it is not only the PLP that needs some successes; the country is in the greatest need. I would not be the only one who wishes for success during this term. It would be good for the country and for this government to have a “golden moment” to set something of a standard to which even their own future aspirants can look upon as an exemplary period.

Our politics in the main has been about denigrating and discrediting the opponent and, while there is no expectation that this culture will change anytime soon, it would be a show of class if the spirit of effort on both sides was seen instead to be about achieving the best for the country.

An effective democracy is critical, but we know there are always two aspects in the works: one is governing and the other is the exercise of fighting to get the chance to be the one to govern.

Partisan banter loves to bring out the bad and the ugly, and unfortunately party loyalists are committed to propagating only the worst beliefs about the opponent. A golden moment for the country would be when we can put aside the baser tendencies of ridicule and malignment, and stick to pure reason to achieve a common good.

In that regard, it may be instructive when looking at new leadership on the opposition benches to not consider who would be the best “thorn in the side” to the Government, but rather who can shift the paradigm of Bermuda politics.

The Bermuda electorate has already shown it could elect whomever it wants or feels best serves its interests. The past two elections were both shockers, but clear indicators that Bermuda is thinking with the vote about what it perceives to be in the best interest of the country. The voters handed the baton to the PLP to do something. It is best considered not as a free gift but rather as one where the expectation is as huge as the result.

The OBA could now testify that four to five years is really a short time and what promised to be an eternity can be over in the twinkle of the eye. Such is the true life cycle in the real world of politics: there is a short period to get something done and to set a stamp on a term in office. It is not a joyride and the glamour quickly slips away as the demand for work and results take centre stage.

We have seen in history where the once jubilant crowd who cheered at the victory parade become a millstone around the neck, like the biblical story of Jesus when they cried “Hosanna in highest” and laid down palm leaves as a carpet one week, and the next week cried “crucify him”.

Yet that feature is supposed to be the good thing about a real democracy that keeps the Government on its toes. Fortunately for the country, we had our experiences, good and bad, and now we have the legislative apparatus and public awareness that can keep everyone on track.

Let’s put our heads together and work for the success of Bermuda.


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