January 23, 2010
Re: NDP’s Request for Registration of “Thumbs-Up” as Official Party Symbol
Dear Mr. Bethel,
Subsequent to our meeting at your office on January 6, 2010, when a request was made for you to reconsider the National Development Party’s application to have the “Thumbs-Up” symbol officially recognized as our party’s symbol, I received a return phone call from you on January 12 to advise that you were not prepared to reverse the initial decision communicated in the letter dated October 28, 2008.
You have contended that you believe the symbol we have requested is similar to the Progressive Liberal Party’s symbol, because both are variations of the hand, and that it might therefore cause confusion in the mind of the voter when casting their vote. We have respectfully argued that there is no similarity between a hand showing three fingers and a hand showing a single thumb, and that any suggestion to the contrary indicates that the intelligence of the Bahamian voter is held in extremely low regard.
An analogous example of political party symbols cited was that of the United States, where the Democratic and Republican parties use the donkey and the elephant, respectively. Using your line of reasoning, sir, I stated to you during our meeting that you would also therefore contend that these symbols were too similar, as both are mammals with appendages – one with a trunk and the other a tail. These political symbols have indeed coexisted without controversy or detriment, and as I indicated to you is a testament to the fact that the intelligence of voters in that jurisdiction is not questioned or held in such low regard.
If we expect that our system of democracy is to ever fulfill its full potential, it presupposes that our political system functions under the premise that voters keenly follow and understand the relevant issues, and the respective party positions in relation to these issues. Such positions may at times be nuanced and as such, require far more critical analysis on the part of the voter, than would be required to differentiate between party symbols. If we do not believe that voters can comprehend the various party positions on the issues, are we then also suggesting that we do not expect voters to vote on the issues? As I argued during our meeting, if we are to maximize the potential of our nation – socially, culturally, economically and politically – we must first raise our expectations of our people.
Sir, as you did not place your response to our most recent request in writing, I respectfully ask that you do so at your earliest convenience, in preparation for the upcoming By-Election in the Elizabeth constituency. The Executive Steering Committee of our party has sought legal counsel in this matter, with a view to pursuing judicial review of your decision, should you insist on denying us permission to officially register the “Thumbs-up” as our party’s official symbol for use on the ballots in the Elizabeth By-Election.
We eagerly await your response.
S. Andre Rollins, D.M.D.
Chairman, National Development Party Executive Steering Committee