By Ian G. Strachan
Most Bahamians would welcome new personalities at the helm of our two major parties. Inspired by the election of Barack Obama, they dream of political renewal in this country ushered by some eloquent, able visionary who will bring the nation to a sense of unity and purpose we haven’t felt in a generation.
Though Hubert Ingraham and Barack Obama share the same birthday, the men represent very different things in the minds of the people. The loquacious Perry Christie is likewise, unable to sustain such a comparison. And though I will grant that Obama has in no way been as successful as many hoped he would be, we are talking here about what he represented in the imagination of Americans, black and white, and what he represented to the world: rebirth, a change from politics as usual. That was the dream he sold. Where is our Obama then?
Is it Bran? What should we make of Mr. Branville McCartney and the Democratic National Alliance? Can we take them seriously? Are they really the contenders they insist they are or that many believe they are? Or are they just another passing fad, destined to go the way of the CDR, BDM, and NDP, just with a lot more wasted money and energy?
Are we looking at the next government of The Bahamas, the next page in Bahamian history, the revolution we’ve all been waiting for, the wave of change that will sweep away all that we’re weary of in public affairs? Or are we looking at the elaborate and glorious endgame of an inexperienced, over-eager and over-rated politician and his rag-tag band of hangers on?
Whichever it is, one thing is certain: in a very short space of time Bran McCartney has become one of the most popular and most talked about politicians in the country. ‘Going Green’ was never as popular a statement as it is now, except it has nothing to do with environmental conservation.
I’m a resident of the Bamboo Town constituency (for the time being). I can say that as a candidate and as a representative, McCartney is enthusiastic and active. It was clear during the ’07 campaign that he enjoyed the opportunity he was being given and he was determined to make the most of it. Could he have beaten Frank Smith if he had run in St. Thomas More instead? Ingraham didn’t seem to think so. But I’ll say this: before McCartney, Bamboo Town had never enjoyed the kind of attention paid to it by this representative.
The parties for the elderly, the community bus, the various educational and outreach programs emanating out of the constituency office, all demonstrate that McCartney was and is prepared to take ham and turkey politics to the next level. Is the work he is doing in Bamboo Town what I think an MP ought to be doing? No. I believe a community center, government and volunteer staffed, ought to be doing that work permanently in Bamboo Town and every constituency in fact. As it stands, that work is happening so long as McCartney is MP. What happens after he is not?
Once McCartney was elected and was able to escape the confines of the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation, he found himself in an ideal position to showcase his abilities (or at least to showcase his ambitions). Now there is nothing wrong with ambition in and of itself; and there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with being opportunistic. The problem is always how far you’re prepared to go and what you are prepared to do or say to get what you want.
And McCartney showed that he would miss no opportunity to call attention to himself, and to zealously hunt down illegals and ship them out. He did for Immigration what Ron Pinder did for garbage collection, which is a disturbing but apropos comparison, given what we think of Haitians.
There was Bran in fatigues, there was Bran bidding people farewell as they boarded a plane to be repatriated, there was Bran in the helicopter showing us where those shantytowns were located, there was Bran feeding the people at the Nassau dump . . . It was shameless. But here’s the thing: I am probably in the minority for thinking so. Many, maybe most Bahamians, were impressed, cheered, celebrated, thought he was fantastic. It seems far too easy to impress Bahamian voters, but there you have it.
More on Bran and the DNA, next week.
Oct 10, 2011thenassauguardian