NO! NO! NO!
By Jerry Roker
for Bahamas Press
Wishful thinking clearly dies hard when it comes to the chronically bad behaviour of opposition politicians in The Bahamas.
For despite their ongoing preoccupation with muckraking and mudslinging, there are still a few dreamers among us who genuinely expect better from these pseudo-political players and their propagandists.
A significant part of the problem is a political system that suggests, that for opposition politicians to be successful, their counterparts on the governing side must be painted as bogeymen, whether they do good or not. There is also the ‘opposing for opposing sake’ without regard to the ‘worth’ of the issue at hand. I don’t believe this is the way our fore-fathers planned it.
This new breed of want-a-bees, have not been capable of demonstrating a high level of seriousness of purpose. They just want to win at any cost. They are for all intent and purpose, mere rabble rousers.
The Bahamas has had to contend with an unprecedented number of vastly complex socio-economic issues in recent years. So it’s not entirely unreasonable to expect our political parties to even now be issuing steady streams of sober-minded position papers offering voters considered appraisals as to our best options moving forward.
The great questions of the day cannot, after all, be decided by platitudinous talking points or cretinous party political spin.
There’s certainly no shortage of stubbornly resistant problems our politicians should be addressing. An economy that is still having difficulty regaining traction seven years into a crippling downturn. Disturbingly high pockets of unemployment and underemployment and all of the associated social traumas which result from deprivation.
But those opposed to the government are content to indulge a flair for the melodramatic and the lurid rather than expend critical thought on consequential matters.
Frivolous issues — and, in some instances, complete non-issues — are seized on and invested with significance in directly inverse proportion to their real importance. Difficult matters which offer no easy solutions are rarely raised.
Calculation and contrivance rather than conviction continue to drive too many issues to the top of the public agenda. Sensationalism and the spurious short-term publicity value of manufactured crises and distractions routinely eclipse The Bahamas’ long-term interests.
Right at this very moment, the governments’ efforts to bring National Health Insurance to market has become a lightning rod for political controversy. Those opposed to this very fundamental and noble pursuit, are busy trying to muddy the water and convince citizens to reject this game-changing initiative. For me health care is as fundamental as education and to hurt our head over cost is a non-issue.
But the Opposition has yet to make a convincing case for rethinking NHI. Instead of reasoned arguments, the Opposition has depended on provocative — but ultimately unsubstantiated — allegations of “malfeasance” and impropriety.
Framing the choice facing voters at the next General Election in starkly apocalyptic (and cartoonishly simplistic) “us-and-them” terms, encouraging a climate of mutual suspicion and mistrust, overly reliant on obfuscation and misdirection, and on permanent election mode.
Every issue, or non-issue, which can provide even a temporary blip amongst voters, is being politicised and leveraged for possible electoral gain.
And, as is so often the case when a campaign is seeking momentum, even the most complex matters are being routinely reduced to crude generalisations. Pitched to the electorate in the type of exaggerated Caps-Lock hyperbole which is normally the preserve of the more excitable variety of blogger, there is no room for subtlety, nuance or detail in these ham-fisted attempts to engage voters’ interest.
Such opportunistic tactics might indeed be useful in galvanising support. But they do nothing to create the type of well-informed electorate which has rightly been described as the essential prerequisite of a democracy.
And no amount of wishful thinking can ever camouflage that dismal fact.