HAPPY 72ND BIRTHDAY PRIME MINISTER
Dear Prime Minister,
Happy 72nd birthday. You are energetic as ever, bouncing around the Bahamas and world at one hell of a pace. You still look good. You must, as it’s disconcerting to me when young, attractive women ask me who is the older of the two of us. If Bernie sees even half of that energy, you are a bigger hero in the eyes of your two younger brothers.
In politics and relationships with the media, life for you is the same as it has always been. The inheritors of that Englishman’s vile pen still adhere to the agenda to “take you and the PLP out” with whatever skewed views they can concoct. At least you now have a companion for media bashing in the form of my college buddy, Hubert Minnis. Only time will tell whether he is able to withstand the assault and one day exult in singing as you have, “The storm is over now”. I reminded you in a previous letter that all of this is “cookie cutter” punditry. For example, President Obama has been critized as too slow to engage in major debates and too timid to make difficult decisions.
There is no doubt about it. In this term of office, you have been more deliberate and willing to shoulder the criticism that comes with making bold, controversial decisions. The issues of Gaming Regularization, VAT implementation, Junkanoo Carnival, National Health Insurance, Minimum Wage and now Bahamar are “big matters” that all impact the common good. The latter issue is a major troubling consideration, but what is important, is that your Government’s response to the matter was prompt and decisive and in your view, the right course to follow as the democratically elected government of the country. That’s governance. One prominent businessman expressed shock and awe at the speed and result you sought for Bahamar. Daddy did not live to see you become PM. He existed under the leadership of your former law partner, Hubert (Ingraham) and seemed to like his “biggityness style”. Daddy must have whispered to you from his place in heaven because he always felt that if you were to be Prime Minister it would be important for you to know when to send the message, “if you go for my throat, you should first cover yours”.
Returning to the media, I do not know why they feel that they can editorialize you out of office. Each week they are at it. I have been at your side for every election you have contested and I have never seen any of them offer you support in Centreville or nationally. Maybe they should be banished to purgatory. I have to admit, my terminology on where elements of the media can go, does sound more Prime Ministerial than yours. The new twist is that you can win elections, but you cannot govern. At a PLP Council meeting once, I told some of your younger Parliamentarians, that politics is like the NBA playoffs, “win or go home”. Governance comes when you win, otherwise you will sit around the table at Starbucks over coffee and pontificate as you like on good/bad governance. No one understands winning better than you. It’s why I know you have lost no sleep over the media injecting bursts of false political muscle into rogue PLP politicians I remember you and Hubert (Ingraham) being placed in that category back in the 1980’s. When I went to Abaco with Hubert for his very first meeting he had a full house. In Centreville, crowd support was never our problem. So I know it’s difficult for you to give political credence to rogue PLP’s who can’t even command the support of their own branch. Prior to the last election there were two rogue PLP’s as pricks in your backside, so what’s new? You have weathered all of the storms. Your, once friends and foes have attacked you as they like. But there is no way of appreciating winning if you don’t have your butt kicked on a regular basis. I am sure that each time you have walked into the opening of new parliamentary sessions over the many years, you have silently pondered with satisfaction, “where have all the faces gone, long time passing”. They all went home.
We are quickly approaching that season of political, open warfare. Your key support base needs to be buttressed. I sat in an open session of PLP Stalwarts recently and just listened quietly as they “poured their hearts out”. In the words of the poet Langston Hughes, for many of your supporters, “life ain’t been no crystal stair”. The irony of it is that these older key supporters understand the value of patience as they seek opportunities for their children, grand children or whatever else they want. But at their stage in life, they also appreciate the values of respect and common courtesies and as I listened closely, it appeared that for many, a simple telephone call or response to a written query would have gone a long way to alleviate their concerns. The Japanese have appointed individuals called “Denshosas” to keep alive the experiences of those who lived through the atomic bomb tragedy on Hiroshima 70 years ago. The “Denshosas” practically live with the remaining Hiroshima survivors until death and become the inheritors of that catastrophic experience to be in the position to keep telling the story for posterity. These Stalwart Councilors are your party’s “Denshosas”. They have walked with the past giants of the PLP and they have walked with you. Every Saturday you personally bury them and their memories. Lift up your party’s “Denshosas” in the eyes of your younger colleagues and if you need some new scripture to quote in support, refer them to Job 12:12, “Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?
The big question in your mind, your family’s, your party and the country’s is what comes next for Perry Gladstone Christie? I have always approached your offering to run again in 2017 with ambivalence. A part of it is related to campaigning. It is not the fun it used to be many years ago and I have wondered aloud, why would Perry want to do this again? A part is related to business. People, who know you, know that those in your family who have an entrepreneurial spirit will enjoy greater freedom to accomplish more with you gone. You don’t do deals. On the other hand, even though I am your brother, I can objectively say that you remain the best man for the job as Party Leader and the next Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. I say this in knowledge of others who I have strong personal regard and affection for and who aspire to your position. The ground out there is soft for the PLP. There are none with your experience and skills to firm up that ground. You will out- talk, out- walk and out- hustle anyone and all, to win. Additionally, this coming election is going to be about you and your stewardship. Whether you are frontline or not, you will be bloodied and bruised in election crossfire. At least, if you are frontline you can engage and swing back. Yes, there is the risk of the legacy of losing. But you are a gladiator supreme and as your predecessors found out, sometimes gladiators meet an honourable death in the arena.
I have concluded that you, leading a coalition of those colleagues who want your job, give the PLP the best chance of re-election. Pope Francis traveling in Latin America, has given you a very basic message to take to the Bahamian electorate, “I wish to join my voice to yours calling for land, lodging and labour for all our brothers and sisters. These are sacred rights.” Enjoy your birthday Prime Minister.
August 18, 2015