Candidates should not make unrealistic promises
The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and the Free National Movement (FNM) have selected their candidates to run in the upcoming general election. The fledgling Democratic National Alliance (DNA) is almost done with its candidate selection process. Several independent candidates have also entered the various constituency races, such as Whitney Bastian in Mangrove Cay and South Andros and Craig Butler in Bamboo Town – and more are likely to emerge soon.
Some of these men and women who are running have been campaigning for years to win a constituency seat. Some will begin that effort in the next few weeks. The people will decide who will be successful and who will be forgotten.
To win, some go all out and make every promise possible. The candidate pledges to fix every road in the area; to make sure every park is maintained; to find jobs for hundreds of people; to visit regularly after being elected; to make sure the community schools are without a need.
Campaigning is hard; winning is harder. To do so you have to convince thousands of people you and your party are best equipped to run the country. Telling people you will do everything for them may get you more votes. But candidates must remember that if they win, those same people will be expecting them to deliver.
The life of that candidate could become miserable if he or she is unable to fulfill the promises made on the campaign trail. If the candidate is elected for a governing party but has little power in the caucus, that member would have little capacity to deliver on anything for his or her area. If elected for the opposition party, good luck getting the government to rush to your assistance in an opposition constituency. And if the governing party does something in that area, it will tell the people it did it and not the opposition MP.
Reasonable and moderate pledges would be better for candidates and constituents. Set out those issues of importance to the community and suggest cost-effective solutions. Also, let the electorate know that if things don’t go well and the party does not win government, you would fight the good fight in public and in private for resources for the constituency.
Being a good public servant is also about telling people what is not possible or easily achieved. Governments have limited resources. They cannot tackle everything at once and some priorities deemed less critical might have to be ignored until a time comes when the capacity exists to address them.
When politicians keep promising and not delivering, they lose their credibility. Voters eventually stop listening to the words of such people.
There are many people who are hurting in The Bahamas now due to the economic conditions that have persisted since the financial crisis of 2008. The national jobless rate was last measured at 13-plus percent. It may seem clever to bamboozle desperate people at election time for power. Power attained in this manner is fleeting and no politician will build a long and successful career based on not being reliable.
Young politicians should be careful and not get too caught up in the excitement of the moments to come in the upcoming elections, selling dreams they cannot deliver.
Jan 18, 2012