It's more than a bit ironic that after 41 years as a nation, so many people are discussing the same issues today that defined the country's first political party (PLP) that wrested the government from the minority in 1967, promising, according to Mr. Philip C. Galanis, "a more equitable social structure including equal opportunities for all Bahamians, better education, universal suffrage, stronger immigration policies, lower-cost housing and the development of agriculture and the Out Islands."
It's as if very little has changed.
Mr. Galanis also noted that, "In addition to the domestic political activism that preceded the elections of 1967, the PLP was successful in exploiting the specter of corruption and conflicts of interest..."
There is no doubt the PLP governments have had major successes since 1967. The peaceful transition to Majority Rule was an amazing accomplishment. But their failures have also been monumental.
By the same token, the governments of the FNM have had great successes and far too many failures.
However, focusing on the raison d'être for the PLP as outlined above, they leave a lot to be desired, especially with regard to women's rights, education and agricultural and family island development. In fact, they campaigned heavily against, and were successful in defeating, a referendum that would have made women equal to men before the law.
As Dr. Milton Friedman advised, “One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.” In other words we spend far too much time congratulating ourselves for being great, while the position on the ground is somewhat different to be polite.
When we turn our attention to scandals and conflict of interest this government appears to lead the pack in both those categories in recent years. Not to mention their skillful use of political victimisation that they seem to have perfected even after fighting against it for so many years in opposition as they tell us.
One would think that after 41 years some of these traits would have been banished and there would have been more tangible success in so many ways, particularly in the areas promised, but alas, to paraphrase Andrew Jackson; I weep for the liberty of my country when I see at this early day of its successful experiment that corruption has been imputed to many members of government and society alike, and the rights of most people have been bartered for promises of office.
But we can be sure the meaning of words like equality, freedom, sacrifice, transparency, success and more will be transformed over the next few days as we celebrate our nationhood. As Gore Vidal noted: "As societies grow decadent, the language grows decadent, too. Words are used to disguise, not to illuminate, action. (you liberate a city by destroying it.) Words are to confuse, so that at election time people will solemnly vote against their own interests."
Regretfully, far too many people are encouraging their children to find jobs and make their lives abroad, for as good as some segments of the past 41 years have been, the future does not look very promising.
Upon turning 41 a certain level of maturity is anticipated expected. However, there is a bit of a disconnect in The Bahamas case. Not that we're alone. But that's no consolation.
Surely we deserve better governance? Why don't we demand it?