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Bahamian Politics Last Updated: Jan 5, 2017 - 10:39:12 AM

DNA: Your Vote - Your Voice
By Branville McCartney, Leader, Democratic National Alliance (DNA)
Jan 5, 2017 - 10:10:42 AM

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In just a few months, Bahamians will once again head to the polls to cast their ballots for the political organization that will govern our archipelago for the next five years. Unlike elections before it however, the 2017 general election is arguably the most critical in our country’s modern history. We must NOT look to be bought for votes, but we must look to receive the gift of prosperity, gift of opportunity and gift of empowerment.

Over the past 25 years the dream once held by our founding fathers has been tarnished. Our once vibrant economy has seen steady decline, while unemployment figures, the national debt, the country’s tax burden and the crime rate have all exploded exponentially. If we continue to be downgraded as we have been four times in the past 4 years, we run a greater risk of our dollar becoming devalued. This means that when we want to travel to the United States for example, we would not get US$100 for our B$100. If you want to fully understand how that feels, ask our neighbours to the South in Haiti where you need $60 Gourde to purchase US$1 and in Jamaica where you need J$120 to purchase US$1.

We have the power in this moment to do something about it. Our system of education which once produced bright young minds, has instead continued to churn out generations of Bahamians who are ill equipped for the job market and even less able to think critically. In the past 25 years the national school average hovered between E and D! The creation of a University product is wonderful; however, it is not attainable by the masses as they struggle to qualify.

So this is an example of poor strategic planning as the high schools must be address and resolved with immediate effect. The lack of environmental responsibility continues to decline. The continue use of plastic and styrofoam is devastating to our environment, yet we continue to import and use these products without care or concern. Our country is dirty! And the dump is burning AGAIN!! Over the past 25 years we have watched the outright neglect of the country’s healthcare and safety net systems, creating a seemingly perfect storm of problems which, if left unchecked, could threaten our very existence.

At the heart of the world’s strongest democracies has long been the belief that the electorate has the right to choose from among themselves, a group of capable men and women to lead. That belief is further bolstered by the idea that the true base of power remains with the people, and not with those elevated to positions of political power. I often say, that “the power of the people is greater than the people in power”. In the 50 years since the achievement of majority rule and some 55 years since the women’s suffrage movement however, Bahamians across the country are seemingly more disconnected from our democracy than they have ever been.

Over the past many months we have watched this trend of widespread government distrust and dissatisfaction manifest itself in the dismally low voter registration turnout, as more and more Bahamians have seemingly chosen simply not to exercise their right to vote. In more recent times, our political leaders have perverted the ideals of true democracy to suit their own agendas; swaying voters with empty promises and rhetoric, lucrative contracts and other inducements and in doing so, have corrupted the political process and devalued the importance of public participation.

The passion once felt by the electorate has been replaced with APATHY. Bahamians no longer believe that their votes make a difference.

This sentiment is as DANGEROUS as it is PERVASIVE!

Despite the flaws in our politics, it must be noted that of all the rights afforded to us as citizens of this great country there is arguably none more important than the right to vote. For many years, Bahamians like you and me were unable to exercise that right. Just a generation ago, Bahamians like you and me were excluded from the process of governance and were subjected to the will and whim of a certain class of individuals. Even now, in this age of relative freedom, we must be mindful that thousands of men and women around the globe are still being denied their right to democratically elect their own governments. Here in the Bahamas, it took the courageous intervention of brave men and women to change that. As we approach another general election, it is vital that we not take their struggle for granted.

For this reason I encourage my fellow Bahamians not to turn their backs on the political process, but to view every opportunity to vote as more than just a right, but an opportunity to honor the sacrifice of our fore-bearers, and to play an active role in securing a better way of life for all Bahamians. Voting is more than JUST your constitutional right it is also your responsibility. I encourage all persons who have not already done so, to REGISTER NOW! Your Vote is your voice! DO NOT BE SILENT!

Branville McCartney

DNA Leader

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